White Bean and Kale Minestrone

This soup is really good, despite being very simple.  How awesome is that?  I found this recipe on a really cool website that I came across recently, called Cookus Interruptus.  It’s a cooking website from the author of a book called Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole FoodsThe website features about 100 recipes, many of which come from the book, and best of all, they’re each accompanied by great videos, which are both instructive and hilarious.  Their shtick is trying to cook meals amid the chaos of wacky family members, and it’s a fun way to learn good but relatively simple dishes made from whole foods.  I highly recommend poking around the site and checking out some of their videos.  You’ll enjoy your visit.

This is one of the recipes that caught my eye, for White Bean and Kale Minestrone.  That it was called “minestrone” struck me as odd, since I think of minestrone as a red vegetable soup with kidney beans and little pasta noodles.  So I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered that minestrone is actually a somewhat generic term for a wide variety of soups or stews, which often feature seasonal vegetables and sometimes pasta.  But the defining feature seems to be that the soup has a bean base (and according to some, those should be roman beans, aka cranberry or borlotti beans to be genuine–but we won’t split hairs).  So I guess this qualifies as a minestrone due to the beans and bean broth that form the base of the soup.  Whatever you call it, it was delicious, despite being very simple and easy to make.  It’s also very healthful, consisting mainly of two highly nutritious ingredients: beans, which are a great source of protein and fiber; and kale, a leafy vegetable full of all sorts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  We’ll definitely be making this again.

A few notes:

  • I cooked the beans in a pot instead of the pressure cooker as she describes in the video.  I put a few bay leaves in the pot and a couple of sprigs of thyme, since we happened to have some.  I also added a cube of bullion, some chicken and poultry seasoning we had in our spice cabinet, and a few cloves of garlic that I smashed with the side of a knife and threw in the pot.  This made really nice tasting broth, which I used as the liquid in the soup instead of the stock she calls for in the recipe.  White beans cook relatively fast as beans go–they’ll be done in less than an hour.  Don’t forget to fish out the bay leaves and the thyme stems and garlic cloves after their done cooking.  I did throw in the cooked garlic in the puree.
  • We garnished the soup with grated parmesan instead of the pecorino (a.k.a romano) cheese she calls for, since that’s what we had.  We’ve started buying blocks of real parmesan (but still lower end stuff, not the expensive parmesan from the fancy cheese section) and grating it ourselves, which is a nice but reasonable upgrade from the fake stuff in the plastic tubes, which contains a bunch of fillers and preservatives and “anti-caking agents”.
  • This did not make a huge pot of soup.  I’d say it would serve no more than 4 adults, maybe just 3 if they have large appetites.  Next time we’ll probably double the recipe in order to have more leftovers.
  • We served the soup with Amie’s delicious homemade bread and a nice salad, which made for a simple, delicious, and healthy meal.
  • Did I mention that this soup was really good?  And easy?
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