Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quick Kale and Bean soup

Autumnal Preparations

Soup, Stock and Storage

In my family, as soon as we start to feel the September nip in the air we know the “carefree” days of summer have passed and the inner squirrel is soon to arrive. All those delicious fresh veggies are not going to be at farmer’s market much longer.  It's time to look forward to the fall harvest: kale, collards, cabbage (ahh -- and my famous cabbage Ribbolita  -- recipe soon to follow). Luckily, these autumn leafy favorites are high in antioxidants (cancer fighters) and have other significant health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol (see below).

Mid-way between light summer fare and hearty winter stomach fillers are some amazing autumnal dishes.  Further down is a delicious, and VERY simple bean and kale soup that everyone who tries seems to request the recipe. 

But, before we get to the soup, it is worthwhile discussing stocks. While there are some delicious store bought stocks (check out Rachel Ray's Chicken Stock), it is best to make your own, provided  you have the time.  

The stocks I most commonly make are:


They all start with the same base. Some call it the ”cooking trinity” - onions, celery and carrots. 

After chopping (they don't need to be diced) these veggies go into your largest pot heated with olive oil.  Once softened, simply add in other chopped vegetables and common ingredients in the refrigerator: parsnips, turnips, garlic, parsley, dill, salt and pepper.  You will enjoy how beautifully they mesh together in the pot. 

Avoid using tomatoes, broccoli or other ingredients which will overpower the subtleness of the stock. These can be added into the soups or bases of the dish that you make with the stock, but not here.

I wish I could send over the smell -- it is culinary heaven. 

Once all the vegetables are soft, I add chicken bones (rotisserie leftovers) or a whole chicken. As Thanksgiving nears, I will ask the butcher for turkey necks,  as they give the stock a heartier, complex, less common taste. It will be used for gravies and for basting. 

I add water till it hits the top of the pot and let the stock simmer for a couple hours.  Once meat is fully cooked, I strain everything out  and let the stock cool over night in the refrigerator (or if its cold enough, outside!).  In the morning, I strain the fat and freeze the stock in separate containers.  But first, before freezing let's use some of it: 

Kale and Bean Soup -- in only 15 minutes!!


3-4 stalks of Kale
Medium Onion
1 Shallot
1 can of White Beans (or Cannellini or Navy)
2-3 cloves garlic
Stalk of Rosemary
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock (preferably home made)
Hot Pepper
Freshly grated Parmasan
Olive Oil

Chop kale, mince garlic and dice onion and shallot.

Heat olive oil in large sauté or soup pan.  Saute onion, shallot, garlic and whole stalk of rosemary for about 5 minutes.

Add kale and hot pepper and sauté until tender (2-3 min)

Add chicken stock and let simmer for 5 minutes on low heat

Add drained and rinsed beans and let simmer for 10-12 minutes on low heat.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Discard rosemary sprig

Add parmesan before serving

Simple and delicious!

Double recipe if serving more than 2-3 people. 

Why Kale?

Simply put, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.  It grows well organically, contains beta-carotene, lutein, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and other minerals. It has high concentrations of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and most importantly Vitamin K -- a crucial antioxidant which helps reduce risks of most forms of cancer.  Vitamin K is also abundant in parsley, spinach and collard greens. Aside from its antioxidant properties, Vitamin K is important for normal blood clotting and bone health, and is used in treatment for people with Alzheimers.   

Oh, by the way, cooked kale also helps to reduce cholesterol! 

It's kind of amazing...

...need I say more??

Just eat your Kale, Dagnamit!


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