Over the last few months we have been perfecting this recipe. It has been a lot of fun because this soup is so good. This is a great winter weather dish, not only because it is soup and delightfully warm, but also because it really features the veggies you may have in your winter storage or still in the garden and greens you may be growing in your greenhouse or even outside depending on where you winter! It is also full of protein and stars my favorite healthy powerhouse: kale! Because this soup is so healthy and full of fiber we do not feel too guilty about pairing it with our favorite gluten free cheese bread that completely lacks nutritional value but tastes oh so good with a steamy bowl of soup (you can find a very easy recipe here, that we make with grass fed aged white cheddar cheese).
Smoky Kale and White Bean Soup. Makes 4-6 bowls.
2 tablespoons oil, coconut or olive
1 small onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled (if you choose) and diced
3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
8 oz kale, chopped, stems and leaves separated (we use lacinato)
1 quart of smoked chicken stock (if you only make/have regular chicken stock use that plus one smoked ham hock, but be aware you will need to remove the fat, omit the ham, and shred the ham in the hock once softened, I have made it this way twice and it is fantastic, just more work — simmer ham hock in stock until softened and smoky flavor is imparted into the dish, about 2 hours)
1 quart of water
2 cups chopped ham or the meat from the ham hock if using that (we like using a lightly smoked fresh ham)
1 can of cannellini beans (BPA free) or equivalent soaked
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper as needed to taste (your salt needs will vary based on your stock and ham choices)
Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a 3 quart stock pot. Add onions and carrots and sauté for 10 minutes. Add garlic and kale stems and cook for about 5 more minutes, until carrots and stems are softened. Add kale leaves and cook 2 – 4 minutes, until leaves are tender but not over cooked (unless you like your kale very soft, then you will want to keep going here until the desired doneness is reached). Add stock and water and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve.