In the post-Holiday winter months, my food choices always lean towards soups that are hearty, nutritious, comforting and budget-friendly. It might be due to the over-indulgence of food and wallet over the Christmas holidays; but regardless, it’s a great time to make soups to warm both the house and soul.
I stock my kitchen pantry with a variety of items that I can put together for a soup at a moment’s notice: canned beans, canned tomatoes, frozen stocks, dried pastas and grains. During times when I have more vegetables languishing in the produce drawer than I have time to cook them, I dice them up and keep them in freezer bags. That way, I’ve got pre-chopped veggies ready to go into the soup pot and no waste!
One of my favorites is Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup. It is hearty and spicy, and a great way to get your daily veggies in. You can make it with either chicken stock or vegetable stock; but for this project I actually used some turkey stock that I made from the Thanksgiving turkey carcass. It was a pleasant surprise: the turkey stock actually gave the soup a deeper, richer, meatier quality.
I invite you to make this soup for yourself. You can omit the fennel if it’s not easy to find; I always tend to add at least one more veggie to a soup just because it can’t hurt to have more veggies! Vary it as much as you like – spicier, milder, lighter, heartier. It’s one I’m sure you’re going to love.
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Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ bulb fennel, cored and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 15-ounce can white beans (or cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional)
3 cups (1 bunch) Tuscan Kale, chopped
2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium flame and add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and garlic.
Uncover and add the pepper flakes and beans and toss to coat.
Uncover and add the kale. Stir to combine the ingredients and simmer, covered, for another 8 minutes, or until the kale is soft and tender.
Ladle into warmed soup bowls, top with cheese and serve hot.
Chef Terri (www.chefterridien) is a chef instructor-startup entrepreneur based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently working on her own startup, Dear Martini (www.dearmartini.net) while also serving the role of Social Media Gal for the San Mateo County Event Center. In between startup projects and event coverage, she also teaches cooking classes! Dear Martini, a media and technology startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area focusing on changing the way people learn to cook by using simple, effective, bite-sized videos. Bootstrapped and supported by generous friends and family, Dear Martini is on its way to developing a web-based application tool to help home cooks synchronize their cooking/searching/learning experience. Check out Dear Martini’s blog: dearmartini.wordpress.com