Sunday cooking adventures: White bean and kale soup


I like white beans and so I’m always looking for ways to make them differently without adding a lot of salt and fat. That means light on the smoked meat products which are very high in sodium, and light on the butter, bacon and bacon fat.

I ran across this recipe in “Moosewood Restaurant Favorites.” (St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, $29.99).

Moosewood Restaurant in New York was founded in the early 1970s and at the time, changed the restaurant industry with its focus on vegetarian and natural foods, long before most people were thinking about eating in a more healthy way.

The soup gets its flavor from fennel, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon. If you’ve never tried fennel, it has a licorice-type flavor. It’s easy to work with and tastes good. Cut the sprouts off the top (which you can save for garnish), cut the bottom root end off, wash it, slice or chop it. It’s not a vegetable I cook with often, but I like to use it for a change from my routine. This soup was delicious, it’s low in fat and is full of good-for-you vegetables. I amped up the flavor a little bit with some white wine, and I left out the salt. But other than that, this made for a great tasting soup that I’ll take to lunch with me this week.

Happy cooking!

White Bean and Kale Soup

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onions (about one large)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons salt (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
1 small fennel bulb, diced (about 2 cups)
1 cup diced carrots
1-1/2 cups diced potatoes (about one large)
2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups cooked white beans (two 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
5-6 cups loosely packed chopped kale (I used Tuscan kale)
3 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice (Don’t even bother with bottled. There is no comparison with fresh.)

It helps in this recipe to chop everything and have them ready before you start: the onions, garlic, fennel, carrots, potatoes and kale.

In a small bowl, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water to cover.

In a covered soup pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic (and salt if using), and cook for about five minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the ground fennel and diced fennel bulb and cook for about three minutes. Stir in the carrots, potatoes, thyme, and black pepper and cook for three minutes. Add white wine and scrape brown residue from bottom of pan.

Add the tomatoes, beans and stock (or water if preferred) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just tender. If the soup is too thick, add another cup of broth or water.

Meanwhile, remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the soaking liquid and coarsely chop. Discard liquid.

Add the kale and sun-dried tomatoes to the pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the kale is tender. Stir in the FRESH lemon juice. Season to taste. Makes about 10 cups.

Serve with bread and cheese.


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