This time of year can be especially hard in the Pacific Northwest – the days are getting longer, the trees are budding, and the crocus and tulips are peeking out at the sky – doesn’t sound that bad, right? However, the thing we usually forget is that even though the calendar says it’s spring, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. We’ve been in the throes of rain and wind storms this last week, so I thought that some delicious soup utilizing the local produce we currently have might help us get through it.
The Whatcom Farm-to-School program highlights kale as their Harvest of the Month item for March, and I have been trying to post a recipe each month to coincide with their program. We are lucky enough to be getting weekly deliveries of beautiful organic red kale from Hedlin Farms in La Conner, WA as well as some sweet and delicious organic winter carrots, so I started looking for recipes to utilize both. I found the answer on Epicurious in the form of Kale and White Bean soup.
The soup is delicious and very easy to make – it is also very hearty and this recipe makes six main-course servings. Customers who tasted the soup in the Cordata co-op today loved it and quite a few people went home with the recipe and ingredients in hand – the smoky flavor from the kielbasa works really well with kale, and there are tons of veggies to fill you up. I adapted the original recipe so there is less prep time by using canned Great Northern beans, but you can also follow the link to the original recipe if you want to use dried beans. This is a very veggie-heavy non-vegetarian soup (is that an oxymoron?) – I know it will seem like there is too much when you prep the carrots and kale, but trust me, don’t skimp!
Kale and White Bean Soup
Makes six main-course servings
- 2 cans o white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carton low-sodium chicken broth (4 cups)
- 2 qt water (8 cups)
- 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3”x2”) (see note below)
- 2 t sea salt
- 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 t finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 package smoked kielbasa, 12 oz, sliced crosswise 1/4” thick
- ~2 1/4 # carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2” pieces (if the carrots are large, then you can quarter them)
- 1 bunch kale, preferably black (but you can use any kind), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
- Drain beans in a colander and rinse well.
- Cook onions in the oil in an 8-quart pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (while stirring), about 1 minute.
- Add the beans, broth, 1 quart water (4 cups), cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the soup is simmering, brown the sausage, in batches, in a heavy skillet over medium heat, 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Raise the heat and stir the carrots into the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in kale, sausage, and the remaining quart of water and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 12-15 minutes.
- Remove cheese rind and bay leaf before serving.
- Season soup with salt and pepper
To save time when you are preparing your soup, prep the onion and garlic first, then wait to prep your carrots and kale while the soup is simmering in step 4.
This soup is best when made 1 to 2 days in advance. You can thin it with water when reheating if necessary. I’ll note for those that tasted it in the store that I did make it the day before serving.
Don’t skip the Parmesan rind—it adds great depth to the soup. Save them in your freezer—they add flavor to a variety of soups.
If you use homemade chicken broth, or choose to not use low-sodium, be sure to adjust how much salt you add to the soup, as you might not need as much.