Italian farmhouse kitchens are havens of warmth, filled with the homey smells of good, simple cooking. This savory soup would be right at home bubbling in a pot over a Tuscan wood-burning hearth.
Here, the mineral-rich assertiveness of kale married with the creaminess of protein-rich white beans makes a soup that will warm and comfort the whole family. Onions, garlic, and herbs add health-enhancing properties and wonderful flavor. With a crusty loaf of hearty farmhouse bread and a glass of good wine, you have the perfect Tuscan supper.
1 1/2 cups navy beans, cleaned and sorted, soaked overnight
3 quarts water
1 bay leaf
3 – 4 sage leaves, fresh or dried
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups finely diced yellow onions
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
6 – 8 cups kale, stemmed and chopped to spoon size
Cream to finish (optional)
1. Simmer beans in 3 quarts of water with the bay leaf, sage, and whole garlic cloves until the beans are completely soft, about 2 1/2 hours.
2. Remove one quarter of the cooked beans, puree them in a food mill or blender, then return them to the pot. The puree will give the soup a creamy background texture.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet, add the onions, then cook until transparent. When soft, add the yeast, a teaspoon of salt, and several grindings of pepper. Stir frequently to prevent the yeast from sticking to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes then add the mixture to the cooked beans.
4. Cook the kale in the remaining butter until it is wilted. Combine with the beans and add enough water to bring the volume to about 3 quarts. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Check the seasonings and finish the soup with a little cream, if desired.
Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from The Tassajara Recipe Book, by Edward Espe Brown (Shambhala, 2000). Copyright (c) 2000 by Edward Espe Brown. Reprinted by permission of Shambhala.
Adapted from The Tassajara Recipe Book, by Edward Espe Brown (Shambhala, 2000).