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Thursday, February 6, 2014

White Bean and Kale Soup

James has a cold! Yikes. We are all hoping the babies and I don't get sick. We'll see how that goes...!

Soup ingredients were on my grocery list this week anyway, so I went ahead and made soup for dinner tonight. I don't really love cooking, but I do love good food and it makes me happy when I find ways to make a yummy meal with very little effort. I am intimidated by recipes with long ingredient lists and very detailed instructions. I like to cook things that are hard to screw up. Like soup.

Last year, a friend gave me this awesome cook book called Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. She's all about eating whole foods and cooking from scratch. The book goes into detail about nutiriton and even explains how to cook different kinds of grains and beans. The really neat thing about this book is that it includes suggestions for adapting the recipes for babies and toddlers. I was immediately intimidated by it. But I was also compelled and since this was back when I had only one kid to take care of, I put on my big girl apron and tried out some of the recipes. They are delicious and not nearly as hard as I'd been afraid of! I love the quinoa chili recipe because I almost always have all the ingredients on hand in my usual pantry stock. And this white bean and kale soup is my favorite.

Cynthia Lair's recipe for this soup involves starting with dry beans, soaking them, doing the whole nine from scratch. I realize that soaking dry beans is not that hard, yet I never pull it together to do it. They just sit in my pantry until I give them to Calvin for some sensory play (read: he pours them all over himself and the floor). So here is how I actually make this soup... not quite from scratch, but still yummy! Full recipe is at the bottom.

Two cans of white beans - this time I used great northern beans but I usually use cannellini, chicken broth or stock - this one was very flavorful, kale, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It would be better with a fresh lemon, but I forgot to buy one!

You start by mincing the garlic and sauteing it in a little olive oil. Then you basically add all the other ingredients, except the lemon juice, and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and continue simmering it until the kale leaves are softened. It doesn't take very long.

My chicken broth from TJ's looks very yellow! 
When the kale is wilted and the broth and beans are heated through, I take it off the stove and then whiz it with the hand blender a few times.  I don't completely puree it. My goal is to break up the kale into tiny pieces without completely pureeing the beans. Please be careful when blending hot soup! It is probably more responsible to let it cool down, then blend it, then reheat it. I'm not that patient :) If you don't have a hand blender, you can blend it in batches in a regular blender or just chop the kale really fine to begin with and leave it un-pureed.

Add the lemon juice last. Its nice to serve it with some grated Parmesan or similar cheese. We like the Parmesan, Romano, Asiago blend from TJ's.

This soup is so yummy! James said it made him feel better, so, mission accomplished. I was skeptical about whether Calvin would eat any of it. I'd never offered it to him before. He wasn't a fan of the kale (he usually has a hard time swallowing foods with that type of texture), but he did eat the beans. And it's ok, he had kale in a smoothie at lunch anyway.

White Bean and Kale Soup

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4ish large kale leaves, chopped; or about 1/2 bag
2 cans cannellini beans, or other white beans
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs lemon juice, or to taste
(optional) grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot, then saute garlic until fragrant (1-2 minutes).

Add beans, broth, kale, salt, and pepper. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer until kale is wilted. (It may already be wilted from boiling.)

Remove from heat and pulse with hand blender until partly pureed. If you do not have a hand blender, separate the soup into two batches and pulse each in a regular blender.

Add lemon juice and serve with grated cheese, if desired.


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