Kale and White Bean Soup

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
photo © Sassy Sampler 2012

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


  1. Drain beans in a colander and rinse well.
  2. Cook onions in the oil in an 8-quart pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (while stirring), about 1 minute.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Raise the heat and stir the carrots into the soup.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in kale, sausage, and the remaining quart of water and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 12-15 minutes.
  8. Remove cheese rind and bay leaf before serving.
  9. Season soup with salt and pepper

Notes –

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.

Kale and White Bean Soup PDF

Simple Beef Stew

The weather has been chilly (and rainy, and windy, etc. etc.), and that means stew in our household.  I have made beef stew too many times to count, but had never actually written a recipe for it before so I figured today was the day!

It’s always interesting creating a recipe for something that you know how to make in your sleep – I have never measured any of the ingredients for my stew, I just add what looks (or smells) like the right amount.  The recipe has evolved over the years, as I have gained culinary knowledge and skill, but has essentially remained the same for over a decade.

I take the time to sear the meat correctly now – this was a step I ignored for many years and have found out that it is essential to making great beef taste FANTASTIC.  The secret is that you really do need to dry your meat before searing it over a high heat – it sears more quickly and leaves a delicious fond (the dark brown bits of meat left on the bottom of the pan) to season your dish as it cooks.  I used the local Bennett Farms grass-fed stew meat (in packs in the frozen meat section, and you can also buy it direct from the ranch in Everson) because it is the best tasting beef I have had since I was a kid and we “grew our own”.  The higher the quality of meat you use in your stew, the better it will taste, so I urge you to splurge on the good stuff!


Simple Beef Stew © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Simple Beef Stew © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Simple Beef Stew


  • ~1 # Stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 T butter or oil
  • 4 c water
  • 1 ½ cubes vegetable bouillon
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ~½ t sea salt (Step 5—amount will depend on how salty your bouillon is — if you get a salt free version you may want to add a little more salt than recommended)
  • 2 largish Yukon potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
  • 2 large carrots, sliced in varying thicknesses
  • 3/4—1 c frozen corn
  • 2-3 T flour *
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*if you are making this gluten-free, add 1 T cornstarch to the flour


  • Onions, fresh garlic


  1. Pat stew meat dry with paper towels and place in bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat.  Heat butter or oil; add seasoned stew meat, making sure to not crowd the pieces in the pot.  Sear meat on twos ides (do this in small batches).
  3. Once all the meat has been browned, add 4 c water to the beef in the pot.  Add bouillon cubes and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Once water is simmering, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  5. When meat is almost done simmering, start prepping your potatoes and carrots.  Remove the lid from the pot and increase heat.  Add cubed potatoes and sliced carrots and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 20 minutes (30-45 minutes is best).  Taste the broth to see if you need to add salt/pepper.
  6. Remove lid and add frozen corn.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and increase heat.  Mix 2 T flour (and cornstarch if making GF) and just enough water to cover it in a jar with a lid.  Pour it into the stew, and stir for about a minute.  If stew doesn’t thicken as much as you would like, add another T of flour (mixed with a little more water).
  8. Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves, and serve with biscuits/rolls (GF or otherwise!)

Sassy Sampler notes:

  • You can add onion and fresh garlic to the recipe if you desire. Add these ingredients when you add the potatoes and carrots. You can also substitute frozen peas for the frozen corn, or add both!
  • This stew (as are most stews) is much richer the second day.
  • I recommend Rapunzel vegetable bouillon and the local Bennett Farms (frozen) stew meat. They combine for fantastic flavor.
  • You can make the stew in about two hours if you observe the minimum cook times.
  • I like to cut the carrots in varying thicknesses so some of them liquefy into the stew, but you are also left with nice chunks.
  • It is important to dry your pieces of meat so they sear correctly. If your meat is too moist, it won’t sear properly. It is worth it to take the time to complete this step.

Simple Beef Stew PDF

Thanksgiving Recipes

We are nearing the biggest holiday in the grocery industry, and you can feel the excitement at the Co-op already.  The Shelton’s turkeys arrived today and are being priced as we speak, so that means only one thing – it is almost Thanksgiving!

In anticipation, I thought I might share some great recipes for the holiday.  I am a big planner when it comes to Thanksgiving – I have a folder at home with all my receipts, recipes, and time lines/checklists  from holidays past to aid in my planning.  I am a little obsessive about it, but it makes for a really smooth day when I’m using every inch of available space in my tiny kitchen!  I also like to make everything I can in advance, and the green bean casserole recipe can be made a day in advance and then just popped in the oven on the big day.

Here are some tasty recipes and handy tips.  Enjoy!

Carve Turkey like a Pro PDF

Let’s talk turkey safety PDF

Turkey 101 PDF

Brining a turkey – I usually use 1 cup  sugar and 1 cup of the least expensive salt that we have in bulk for a 12# bird.  I put the sugar and salt in a heavy plastic bag and mix in enough water to dissolve as much of it as possible (just squoosh it around in the bag).  I then add the turkey and enough water to cover it, put it in a large stock pot (in case the bag leaks) in the fridge.  I usually let it sit for 10 – 12 hours.  You can find some more information here.

gluten-free = GF

Classic Green Bean Casserole PDF (GF option)

GF Southern Cornbread PDF (from www.glutenfreecookingschool.com)

GF Cornbread Dressing PDF (from www.glutenfreecookingschool.com)

Wild Rice Stuffing PDF

Suzanne’s Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie (GF if you make a gluten-free pie crust)

Apple Turnovers (The apple filler recipe can be used in an apple pie – see the original post for a recipe for a streusel topping.  The best GF pie crust I have found is made using Pamela’s Products GF Bread Mix Easy Pie Crust recipe)

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie (GF option if you make a gluten-free crust or use Glutino’s GF wafer cookies)

Cookie Crumb Pie Shell (from www.dianaskitchen.com)  You can use GF cookies in the recipe.

You can also try the GF Graham cracker recipe, but instead of making crackers, roll out the dough and treat it like pastry dough – the edges might fall if you make it too thin, but in theory I can’t see why it wouldn’t work as a pie shell!  It would be great for pumpkin pie (especially with the Vegan Pumpkin Mousse) or for chocolate cream pie…

August Meal of the Month – BBQ Fajitas with Corn Salsa

This month’s Meal of the Month (meal for 4 for about $10) is brought to us by Jen McBeath.  Her husband Matt is on our Board of Directors, and he’s the first to chime in about how brilliant his wife is in the kitchen, so I was looking forward to receiving her recipe.  She did not disappoint!

This is our first meat-based Meal of the Month, and what a perfect season for an easy BBQ recipe that everyone will love (well, all the omnivores out there at least)!  A little prep needs to be done in the kitchen, but after that head outside and enjoy the weather.

BBQ Fajitas with Corn Salsa


1/2 # Fajita meat

1 red pepper, cut into long, even strips

1 yellow zucchini, cut into long, even strips

1 small Walla Walla sweet onion, cut into long, even strips

2 ears of corn, silk removed

1 lime

1 package Corn Tortillas

1 T Mexican Seasoning

1 Avocado, diced

1/4 c oil (canola or olive)

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place veggies, meat, oil, and Mexican seasoning in zip-top bag—massage spices into ingredients and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.

2. Heat up grill or coals.  Once it is hot, place corn on the grill, turning every 5 minutes for a total cooking time of 15—20 minutes.

3. Allow corn to cool then cut the kernels off the cob into a bowl.

4. Put diced avocado in with the corn and squeeze half the lime on the mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix gently.

5. Grill meat and veggies 3-5 minutes on each side.  Heat the tortillas directly on the grill for about 30 seconds on each side.

6. Build your fajita: tortilla, meat and veggies, and corn/avocado salsa.  Squeeze on a little extra lime juice from unused half.

7. Serve with a deli salad or green garden salad with lime vinaigrette.

BBQ Fajita with Corn Salsa PDF

Breakfast Pie

I wasn’t able to do a recipe demo yesterday at the Cordata store, but I figured I would still offer up one of my all-time favorite recipes.  It isn’t something that would be easily demo’d in the store, so this is the perfect opportunity to share it with you!

My husband and I developed this recipe from other similar ones we have made in the past.  It is a really easy weekend breakfast (that I will admit we make almost every weekend, and then I eat the leftovers for lunch).  It is very easy to add your favorite ingredients, but we have kept it simple and tailored it to our tastes.

This recipe can be made gluten-free and/or vegetarian.  The options are pretty limitless, just make sure you precook any extra ingredients you may add.  I make some suggestions for additions, and if you make this, let me know what your favorites are!

I use the Alexia Hashed Browns for the crust – I contacted Alexia and asked if their potato products were gluten-free and they replied that although they are not certified gluten-free, they process their potatoes in their own factory, and don’t use any wheat ingredients, so that is good enough for me.  If you have Celiac disease, then I wouldn’t recommend using these hash browns – the Cascadian Farms ones are great as well, you just may want to season them before pressing them into a “crust”.  I have never made this with fresh potatoes, and if you try it, be aware that you might need more butter (one of the original recipes called for a whole stick!) and it may change the cooking time.  When you add the milk, the size of the eggs you are using will dictate how much milk you will need – a large egg equals roughly 1/4c liquid, and you don’t want more than 2 cups of liquid or your pie will overflow!

Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Breakfast Pie


1 package Hash Browns

4T butter

4-5 strips bacon

5 eggs

~3/4c milk

Sea salt

Black pepper

Garlic granules/powder

~ 1/4c Cheddar cheese, grated

Optional additions:

Any pre-cooked veggie (mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc.)

Any pre-cooked meat (ham, sausage, vegetarian sausage, etc.)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Thaw hash browns on counter (I usually spread them out on a piece of parchment paper).  Once they are thawed enough to work with (about 30 minutes) put them in a glass pie dish and press them into the dish to form the “crust” – remember to press them up the sides of the dish!

3. Melt 4T butter and pour over hash brown crust, making sure to coat the sides.  Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.

4. While crust is baking, cook your bacon.  I feel bacon is best baked in the toaster oven (about 400 degrees for about 10-15 min—keep an eye on it! and flip it a couple times).  Let cool.

5. In 2 cup liquid measuring cup, break five eggs and lightly mix.  Add about 3/4c milk to eggs (you should have no less than 1 3/4c and no more than 2c total).  Mix together with a fork or whisk and add salt, pepper, garlic, etc. to taste (I usually add about a 1/8t of salt, a couple good pepper grinds and a healthy dash of garlic).

6. Remove crust from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees.

7. Sprinkle cheese on bottom (and sides) of crust.  Next, add your layer of bacon (break it up into bits).

8. Slowly add egg mixture to crust, making sure to pour some over the edges of the crust.

9. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-4 minutes.

Great served with sour cream and hot sauce!

There are many places you can take this recipe, including adding vegetables and/or omitting the meat (if you are vegetarian) – just be sure you precook anything you add to the pie.  Any extra ingredients should be added before you pour in the egg/milk mixture.

White Bean, Chard and Emmer (Farro) Soup

My husband recently challenged me to find recipes that use ingredients from as many departments in the Co-op as possible to demo in the store (I will admit that he had an ulterior motive for this since he is the Grocery Manager at the Cordata co-op).  Recently, the Member Affairs Committee had a retreat meeting at Ciao Thyme Catering, and they had a bunch of back issues of Edible Seattle that they offered up to us.  I took a few because I thought that they might have some great NW recipes in them, and indeed, that is where I found my challenge winning recipe!  It was published in the March/April 2009 edition, and it made my mouth water just reading the recipe.

White Bean, Red Chard and Emmer soup was a winner for many reasons.  It has ingredients that can be found locally in season, with the exception of the white beans, olive oil, and tomato paste (chicken stock can be made from WA chickens in your own kitchen).  This recipe has ingredients from six departments in the Co-op, which is why it was the winner:

  • Salmon Creek Farms pork shoulder from the Meat Department
  • Dry white wine, of course from the Wine Department (this gave the soup an intoxicating aroma!)
  • Tomato paste and chicken stock from Grocery
  • Organic red chard, carrots, celery, yellow onion, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and local garlic from Produce
  • Parmesan cheese from the Deli Cheese department (for garnish, yum!  I love the Reggiano from Italy the best)
  • Emmer and white beans from Bulk

Emmer is a pretty cool grain that most of us don’t have much knowledge of – it is an heirloom wheat variety that is grown by the Lucy family on Bluebird Grain Farm in the beautiful Methow Valley.  Emmer, or Farro as it is called in Italy, is a low-gluten, high protein wheat whose structure is so different from modern wheat that many people with wheat/gluten sensitivities can eat it (every body is different, and if you have Celiac or a high gluten-intolerance, you shouldn’t eat this grain).  I have only been “off the gluten” for a little over two months, so I won’t be trying Emmer myself for at least another six months or so, but I am excited at the prospect of being able to use the flour in baking if I am able to tolerate it!

I was told that the Emmer was a great addition to the soup because it “popped” when you bit into it and added good dimension.  I got very favorable responses from customers on the flavor of the soup, and its use of ingredients (did I mention the intoxicating aroma?).  One person said it was one of the best soups they had ever tasted, and another customer was floored because her husband (who doesn’t like chard) was enjoying his hearty sample!  All in all I say it was a great success with everyone.  You can easily make this vegetarian – just omit the pork shoulder and use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.

photo white bean chard emmer farro soup

White Bean, Chard, and Emmer Soup © 2010 Sassy Sampler

White Bean, Red Chard, and Emmer Soup


  • 1 pound pork shoulder, chopped into 1” stew pieces
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2T olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped into half moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2c dry white wine
  • 8 c chicken/vegetable stock (not broth)
  • 1/2c emmer/farro grain (or short grain brown rice for GF)
  • 1c white beans, soaked overnight, or 2 cans white beans (I used Westbrae Great Northern Beans in my demo and they were great)
  • 1 bunch red chard (about 3/4 lb), chopped into 1” pieces (see below for instructions)
  • 1/2c chopped fresh parsley
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Season the pork pieces with salt and pepper.  When the pot is hot, add 1T of the oil, then add the pork and cook until browned on all sides, turning pieces only when they release easily from the pan.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining T of oil to the pan, then add the onion, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and tomato paste, season with salt and pepper, and stir for a minute or two.  Add the white wine, and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the stock, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the emmer (or rice), beans, chard, and reserved pork, and cook at a bare simmer, covered, at least one hour and up to three, until the grain, beans, and pork are tender.
  4. Before serving, stir in the parsley, and season to taste.  Serve the soup in big bowls with hunks of bread (or the Swan Bakery’s yummy GF rolls), garnished with Parmesan cheese and a swirl of good olive oil.

Vegetarian Version:

Skip step one, and add all the oil at the beginning.

To Prepare Red Swiss Chard for cooking:

  1. Wash chard thoroughly—two to three times.
  2. Slice chard along both sides of the stem and discard.
  3. Fold leaves in half, then fold them in half again (lengthwise) and cut into 1” pieces.

p.s.  I made the most amazing beef stew this weekend with the frozen, local, grass-fed beef from Bennett Cattle Company in Everson and some delicious gluten-free biscuits with the Swan Bakery’s Gluten Free Mix in bulk – expect a demo, or at least the recipes in the future!

French Chicken in a Pot Demo/Recipe

Today I demo’d one of my favorite recipes at Cordata – French Chicken in a Pot.  It is a dry braise recipe, and it is the moistest chicken I have ever tasted!  It’s also an incredibly easy recipe, and the samples were a big hit!

photo of dry braised chicken

French Chicken in a Pot © 2009 Sassy Sampler


  • 1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2—5lbs), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back
  • 2 t sea salt (or smoked sea salt)
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4—5 shallots, peeled, trimmed  and chopped in half if large (I prefer the local French Shallots when they are in season)
  • 1 small stalk celery, chopped medium
  • 1 medium leek, white portion cut in half lengthwise, cleaned and cut into 1 1/2” pieces
  • 5—6 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary


  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven (or sturdy stockpot) over medium heat until just smoking.
  2. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter shallots, celery, leek, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary around chicken.
  3. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.
  5. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer (or cheesecloth) into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat.
  7. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Serve chicken, passing jus at table.

Side dish suggestions:

  • Roasted Green Beans
  • Mashed or Roasted Potatoes
  • Braised Winter Greens

French Chicken in a Pot PDF

November MOM

Each month the Member Affairs Committee selects a recipe (submitted by staff, committee members, and co-op member-owners) for the Meal of the Month (MOM).  I made a batch of Country Beef Stew in early November to demo in the store, and it was very popular.  The recipe was adapted by Co-op member-owners Chelsey DiPasquale-Hunton and Erin Thompson from a recipe contributed by our Cordata Deli Manager, Paul Manthe.  I did add the optional green beans (I used fresh), and my receipt totaled $10.60.  It was fantastic stew, and could be easily adapted for vegetarians.

MOM Nov. 09 recipe