White Bean and Kale Soup

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With all of the baking I’ve been doing lately, my body has literally been screaming for something extra healthy.  I love soup any time of year, but right now with it being so cold outside, I crave it even more.  I had some kale I’d chopped up about a month ago and popped in the freezer and some canned cannellini, or white kidney beans, in the pantry, so I knew what I had to do.  I made some White Bean and Kale soup, which is one of my all time favorites.  Last year, a white bean soup recipe was published in my Cooking Light magazine, so this version is a play off of that.  I’ve changed it up considerably, adding fresh lemon juice and extra vegetables.  This soup is your entire meal in a bowl.

As most soups require, there is a bit of chopping involved here.  I’ve stated before that I think chopping vegetables is therapeutic for me when I have the time.  You can always pre-chop your vegetables and place them in the refrigerator if your evening is going to be hectic.  The soup comes together in a flash once you have all of your ingredients ready.  The chopping only takes about 10 minutes, depending on your knife skills!  That isn’t too bad, is it?   You can buy pre-chopped kale in the produce section, also, which is a huge time saver.  There is one other step with the cannellini beans.  This recipe calls for (3) 15 ounce cans of beans.  I removed 1 1/2 cups of the beans, placed them in a bowl, and mashed them with the back of a large spoon.  The mashed beans will thicken up the soup, and the rest will be left whole.  You can also puree the beans in a food processor or blender with some of the chicken broth, but why bother dirtying up one more thing?  Just use the method you’re most comfortable with.

Grab yourself a large soup pot and get started.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot over medium heat, and add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.

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Let those veggies sweat it out for about 8-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are fork tender.  Add the bell pepper, and herbs de provence, and saute for 2 more minutes.  Add the whole beans, mashed beans, kale, and broth.  Give the soup a stir and let it come to a boil.

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Once the soup is boiling, simmer on medium about 15-20 minutes more, until it’s reduced down and thickened.  Remove from heat and add the fresh lemon juice. The lemon juice makes the vegetables pop with flavor. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  I like to top my soup with shaved parmesan.  I think crumbled bacon would be fabulous as well!  Serve with nice, crusty bread, and this is your rustic, hearty, healthy meal.   Start your New Year’s resolution early and start eating healthier now!  This soup is the perfect way to start.

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White Bean and Kale Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This soup is rustic, hearty, and healthy -- it's a meal in a bowl! The lemon juice makes the vegetables pop with flavor, and the parmesan cheese adds a nice, salty bite. Serve with warm, crusty bread.
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs de provence (dried thyme or oregano works well also)
  • (3) 15 ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ⅓ cup shaved parmesan cheese for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots to the pot and let the vegetables cook until they are fork tender and the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the vegetables cook, place 1½ cups of the beans into a small bowl and mash them with the back of a spoon or a fork. Set aside.
  3. When the vegetables are tender, add the bell pepper, and herbs de provence and saute for 2 minutes. Add the whole beans, mashed beans, kale, and broth to the pot. Stir and let the soup come to a boil, which takes about 10 minutes. Simmer until the soup has reduced down and thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Place in bowls and garnish with the shaved parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread for a nice, rustic meal.
Notes
You can substitute fresh spinach or swiss chard for the kale. Frozen works well, too, just rinse and thaw slightly.