The title says everything. This soul-warming bean & kale soup is KINDA all I need to eat all winter. i’m pretty sure. Even my kids devour it like it’s never going to stop nourishing their wee souls.
It has everything you want in a soul-warming soup:
- Golden, rich, immune-building chicken bone broth
- Smooth dinosaur kale (my favourite way to eat it — in soups)
- Tasty, flavour-soaking, fibre-rich and filling white beans
- Chunks of smoky smoked German sausage (no cooking required, no grease)
- Infused with rich, nutty-fruity, salty, sharp flavour of parmesan reggiano rind
- Bits of onion, garlic, carrot and fresh rosemary for sweet flavour
- Cheap, easy, fast, yummy, few ingredients
And the thing that makes it extra special for us is the love it infuses into the household.
We experienced a deep loss this month. The grieving has started, but it really has only just begun. And after weeks in a hospital, waiting for this loss, eating take-out everyday, being kinda homeless and unable to cook… we are finally home. And a chance to nourish ourselves with something so warming and delicious is just what our hearts ordered. I think I never want to stop eating it.
Can food really do that? Why yes… I think it really can.
Beans must be a superfood. They’re high in fibre, low in bad fats, inexpensive, awesome, filling. I chose to use canned beans for this soul-warming bean & kale soup because I knew it would be so fast to make (and it really was). However, dry beans are next level. If you own a pressure cooker (or instant pot) then you can’t really beat the speed it takes to make this soup with dry beans. (If you have the time, a stove-top or slow cooker method works fine, too.) The type of white bean you choose to use is really up to you, but I’d go for what you have on hand. I used cannellini beans (white kidney beans) because they are always in my cupboard — and I use them more than any other bean. But navy beans are often what I use if I go for dry beans. I’ve included a method for using dry beans below.
Kale oh kale. A word on kale. So I’ve admitted this before but I don’t love kale. In fact, I’d say there have been times I’ve downright hated it. And as an nutritionist I am EXPECTED to LOVE it. (Bull roar. That’s what that is.) So maybe it is the rebel in me. I doubt it. I think I just don’t love kale made certain ways. With that said… the one way I love kale is in soup. It just makes sense there. Kale swimming in rich broth, surrounded by other flavourful things, makes kale sing. Especially with parmesan in there. Or bacon. (The fat cuts away bitter flavours.) ANYWAY… I love kale in here. I particularly love it here using dinosaur kale (also known as black kale or lacinato kale or cavolo nero). The leaves are smoother and cook up nicer in soup. But the curly kind would work, too.
I highly recommend you do not skip out on the parmesan rind. If you don’t keep old rinds lying around in the fridge like I do (just for this purpose) then simply cut the rind off the hunk you have. This infuses a flavour into the soup that cannot be matched. I use this method for flavouring any soup with kale because the fat, sharpness from the cheese helps reduce the bitterness of the dark, leafy green. I do this for minestrone soups, as well. But it gives a flavour to the soup that is next level.
The smoked sausage is great because it requires no cooking. I just throw it in. If you decide to use kielbasa, I would brown it a little before adding it to the soup. You can also skip the meat entirely. It adds a nice flavour, but isn’t everything.
And of course, I can’t not mention chicken bone broth. Here is a fabulous recipe for that: Awesome Bone Broth. I suggest you get into the habit of making your own because nothing beats the flavour and immune-building properties of homemade broth. It’s super easy to make, inexpensive, and can be thrown into 3-cup ziplock bags and stored in the freezer. I have some on hand year-round, but especially at this time of year.
Building your immune system is especially important right now. Winter is just beginning, and so is flu-season. Not only that, as holidays pounce on us, so do bad habits and poor eating and stress. Do not forget the value of a nourishing soup or broth to sustain you as you embark on this crazy time. An important read: Food For Winter Immunity
It is especially important when dealing with loss. We have just come down from a very intense experience, and that is when bugs are most likely to get us. And a soul-warming bean & kale soup made with rich, bone broth is nourishing for our hearts, as well.
Let me know how it turns out in the comments 🙂
Soul-Warming Kale White Bean Soup
- 1 Tbsp ghee or olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, diced (optional — I didn’t bother last time)
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, leaves minced
- 1 stalk fresh thyme, stem removed
- 1 bay leaf
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch of dinosaur kale (also called lacinato or cavolo nero), stems and centre removed, chopped
- 3 – 4 cups chicken bone broth
- 2 can white beans (1/4 amount smashed with a potato masher)
- 1 piece of parmesan rind
- 2 small (1/4 pound) smoked sausage (or kielbasa), sliced (optional)
- freshly grated parmesan, for serving
- Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot, over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions begins to soften a brown a little. Stir so the onions don’t brown too much.
- Stir in garlic, carrots (if using), and herbs. Brown another minute. Season with a few pinches of salt and a few rounds of fresh ground pepper.
- Add kale, broth, whole and mashed beans, and parmesan rind. Add some water, if it needs a bit more liquid. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice sausage very thin (if using). Brown in a pan, if desired. (I usually don’t bother.) Add to the soup near the end of the 15 minutes.
- Serve topped with grated parmesan. This soup is very satisfying on its own, but also lovely served with nice bread, garlic toast, or salad.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING DRY BEANS: Cover beans with an inch or two of water and soak for a few hours. Drain and rinse. Brown onions, garlic. Add herbs, soaked beans, and bone broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 50 to 60 minutes (or 20 minutes in pressure cooker). Add carrots and cook for a bit. Then add the remaining ingredients, cook until carrots are cooked, kale is soft and wilted.