We’re on the tail end of enjoying a really great 4th of July weekend here, and we hope you all have had the same! This year, we celebrated the holiday with the usual fanfare and fireworks, as well as…can you guess? Okay…um…well yes, soup. We kind of gave that one away, didn’t we? But what was in that soup?
Nope, not peppers. (But check out this monster! Hey, that’s pretty big for a banana pepper!)
Nope, not wax beans. (Though don’t they look divine? Steamed with a little butter, salt, and pepper? Delish!)
If you guessed kale then ding, ding, ding! Right you are!
We had a grand time on the 4th making our very first kale harvest. Our Blue Curled Scotch Kale (from rareseeds.com) produces smaller leaves than those you might find in a grocery store. The largest leaves were maybe six inches long. Since large kale leaves can tend towards tough and bitter, we were hoping that perhaps this “baby” kale would turn out to be a little more tender. Boy, was it ever! The stuff cooked up like a blast, and it didn’t have that “bitter greens” taste. The closest thing we could compare it to is regular (not baby) spinach, except without the sulphury taste. The texture of the leaves was light and not at all hard or mealy.
Now, as we already alluded to, this batch of kale ended up in soup, so perhaps things would have been a little different with it if we had made something else. You’re probably thinking “who the heck wants hot soup on a hot day?” That thought did cross our minds, but we already had some good soup fixins in the fridge and pantry. So soup it was! We opted to modify a white bean and kale soup recipe that we love to make in the winter. That recipe calls for mashed beans in order to make the soup thick and hearty. We kept the soup light by only using just whole beans, no thickener, and some beautiful summer squash that’s in season at the store. The wintery soup recipe also calls for sausage to be added in — here we cooked that separately and made a completely vegetarian soup. (Though you could certainly substitute chicken stock/broth for the vegetable stock.) The results were warm, yes, but also fresh and filling. Here’s how things went:
Kale and white bean soup
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
half of a medium-sized onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups kale leaves, removed from stems and chopped coarsely
2 medium-sized squashes, chopped (we used one green zucchini and one yellow summer squash)
1 15-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, drained (or about 2 cups fresh tomatoes)
1 15-ounce can of white beans, drained (we used butter beans)
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 26- to 32-ounce container of vegetable stock/broth
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional) Servings of sausage, Kielbasa, smoked meat, etc., cooked to your own preferences
In a large saucepan or dutch oven heat oil over med-high heat. Add onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and then add in the kale leaves. Stir until they are wilted — should only take a few minutes.
Add in squash, stir, and cook the mixture for about 8 minutes, giving the squash a little time to soften and cook through. Stir regularly. (i.e. don’t let the squash to stick to the bottom of the pan.)
Stir in tomatoes, beans, rosemary, and the bay leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes or until you can just start to smell the rosemary.
Add in the stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then let it simmer for about an hour. (This gives the kale plenty of time to soak up all the flavors of the soup while it’s bitterness erodes.) Add in a little salt and pepper is you like.
Serve with crackers, bread, or toasted croutons. If meat is cooked, add a serving to each bowl. (It’s also great with a few splashes of hot sauce.)