In my rather brief stint as a kale eater, I’ve learned one very important fact about this greeny, leafy vegetable: Kale is a divisive little food. It seems like one of those love-it-or-hate-it things. You love it for its vitamins and overall good-for-you-ness but wish it tasted more like lettuce or spinach than it’s noticeably bitterer cousin. But that’s the deal with a lot of healthy foods, I suppose. Just this weekend Jared asked why Greek yogurt can’t taste like ice cream. The boy has a point.
So what’s the trick to making kale more appealing to the masses? Like most things, it’s all about the preparation, and I think this soup from Food52 is a great example of kale-making done right. The soup incorporates the kale (all six cups of it) at the tail end of the process into a pot filled with flavor. With all of the bean, herb and brothy goodness going on, the once-bitter kale transforms into something slightly crisp, slightly bitey and all warm, cozy and delicious. Which is just about perfect on a day like this.
Yep, we awoke to a solid dusting of snow this morning. Apparently the outside isn’t quite ready for spring.
Pasta and Bean Soup with Kale
From Merrill Stubbs, Food52.com
• 1 ½ cups pinto or cranberry beans, rinsed
• 4 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium)
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
• leaves from 2 small sprigs rosemary, chopped
• leaves form 2 sprigs thyme
• 3 large sage leaves
• 12.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juices
• 1 cup loosely packed white bread (use a Tuscan or French loaf, and tear the inside into chunks)
• 2 cups finely chopped fresh tomatoes, with juices
• pinch of red chili flakes
• freshly ground black pepper
• 6 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (no stems!)
• 4 ounces small dried pasta (such as tubetti or macaroni)
• extra virgin olive oil
• freshly grated Parmesan
Put beans in a large pot, and fill pot with water until beans are covered by at least 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the beans for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the beans soak for 2 to 4 hours.
Drain and rinse the beans, and return to pot. Add chicken stock, 3 cups of water, garlic, herbs and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about an hour, until the beans start to become tender but still have a firm-ish bite.
In the meantime, use a fork to mash together the bread and canned tomatoes in a medium bowl. Set aside while the beans are cooking, then add this mixture, the chopped tomatoes, red chili flakes and black pepper to taste. Cover the pot, and simmer gently until the beans are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep bread from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the soup seems too thick, you can add more water. While the soup is cooking, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.
When the beans are cooked, stir the kale into the soup, and continue to simmer. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook according to package directions. When pasta is just al dente, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the soup. Remove soup from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.
Did winter make one last go in your neck of the woods this weekend? Any warm and cozy foods on the agenda today? And what’s your kale opinion? Yay or nay?