White Bean and Kale Minestrone
Adapted from Soup Makes the Meal by Ken Haedrich (Harvard Common Press, 2001).
Hurray for kale, so rich in minerals and such a toothy green! It adds hefty nourishment to this winter variation of classic Italian minestrone. This is a very colorful, convivial soup, nearly substantial enough to be considered a stew. Served with salad and a loaf of crusty bread, it's a meal in itself.
3/4 cup dried small white beans, picked over and rinsed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts water
1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and finely diced
1 cup seeded and finely diced winter squash
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound kale
1 cup coarsely chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1. Put the beans in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, continue boiling for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Cover and set aside to soak for 1 hour.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook 1 minute, then add the water, potato, squash, celery, and bay leaf. Drain the beans and then add them. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to moderately low and cook at a very gentle boil until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
3. Strip the kale leaves from their stems, ripping the leaves into bite-size pieces; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves by dunking them in a bowl of cool water. Add kale, tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs to the soup. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, then correct the seasonings. Stir in the parsley just before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
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