Argh! What to make for dinner when you have nothing in the fridge except for a bunch of Tuscan kale? After scouring the cupboards, I came up with a lone, forgotten can of cannellini beans. Immediately I thought of a thick white bean and kale soup that I once had. It was warming, creamy, and rustic — perfect for a chilly fall evening. But could I come up with an equally tasty result with so few ingredients?
More digging around unearthed a couple of single-serving Tetra-packs of organic chicken stock. I also had some lovely organic garlic left, as well as about a cup of grated Parmesan from last week’s macaroni and cheese.
Now, I thought, we’re in delicious business.
The soup came together quickly, and although it was a little thinner in consistency than the soup I remembered, it was still a wonderfully satisfying supper.
And can you believe it, Readers, I even managed to make some croutons.
For the soup:
1 bunch of Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 can of cannellini beans, drained
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup
For the croutons:
About 1 cup of bread cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
A hand-held immersion blender
How to prepare:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. To make the croutons, toss the cubes of bread, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Once the bread cubes are evenly coated, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake the bread cubes, turning them occasionally, until they are golden.
3. For the soup, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium casserole over medium-high heat. Add the sliced garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the canned beans. Toss the beans in the garlicky oil. When the beans are warmed through, about 2-3 minutes, add the chicken stock. Partially cover the pot and bring the beans and stock to a boil. When the soup starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium and simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, partially blend the soup, leaving some of the beans whole. Continue simmering until the soup has thickened up a little bit.
5. Stir the kale leaves into the soup. When the leaves are wilted, partially cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 a cup of Parmesan.
6. Spoon the soup into warmed bowls. Top the soup with a few croutons and the remaining Parmesan cheese. If you want, you can even drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top before serving.
Tuscan kale is also known as Lacinato kale, black kale, and dinosaur kale.
You can easily remove the stems from the kale leaves by folding the leaf lengthwise along the stem and pulling the leaf away from it.
For the croutons, use good crusty bread if you have it — I didn’t have any, but I wish I did!