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On Tuesdays, our local whole foods co-op offers members 10% off on produce; the new supply arrives on Wednesday, and it’s the produce department’s way of clearing the shelves. I just happened to be shopping there last Tuesday, scouring the depleted produce area for anything that still looked fresh, when I came upon something I couldn’t identify. It had flat, oak-shaped leaves and a bright purple center stem and looked like a combination of swiss chard and dandelion greens. Of course, I immediately put it into my cart—there’s nothing so tempting to me as a New Vegetable.
I was stumped and had to track down someone from the produce department, who identified this mystery green as red kale. I would have never guessed it was a member of the kale family because it was neither bumpy like lacinato kale nor curly like regular kale. Instead, its purple and green leaves seemed to have other tiny leaves sprouting out of them!
When I got it home and tasted a little bit of it raw, I found that it is less bitter than regular kale and could possibly be eaten in a salad. But because the center veins and stems are very fibrous and tough, I knew I wanted to cook it, so I made it the centerpiece of this light and delicious, Italian-style vegetable soup. I can’t say that it made the soup taste any different than regular kale, but I, at least, knew it was there.
Rustic Red Kale and White Bean Soup
You can substitute any other leafy green for the kale, but if you’re using quick-cooking greens such as spinach, allow the soup to cook for 25 minutes before adding the greens; then add the greens and cook just until they’re done.
- 1 bunch red kale (or use any other green available)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or about 5 “ice cubes” of frozen basil)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans
- 4 cups water
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional serving suggestions: Balsamic vinegar and soy parmesan
- Prepare the kale by removing the thick parts of the center rib and discarding them. Slice the leaves thinly. Measure out 4 cups of kale for the soup; save the rest for another use.
- Heat a large, non-stick pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until the onion begins to brown, adding water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute. Add all the remaining ingredients, and allow the soup to simmer, adding extra water as needed, until the kale is tender, about 30-60 minutes, depending on the kale. Taste the soup and add more basil, if necessary.
- Serve the soup, stirring a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of vegan parmesan into each bowl, if desired. Makes about 6 servings.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 50 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Each serving contains: 152 Calories (kcal); 1 g Total Fat; (5% calories from fat); 9 g Protein; 30 g Carbohydrate; 0 mg Cholesterol; 258 mg Sodium; 7 g Fiber