Man, the holidays have done a number on me. While I have gotten plenty of rest and relaxation, my diet has been, well, less than desirable. Good (and by good, I mean yummy tasting food I don’t have access to the rest of the year, like Christmas cookies and candies… not healthy) eating is a definite plus of the holidays, but after a few days my body starts to get mad. There are only so many cookies, eating out, and straight up carbs I can take.
Now that I am finally home and cooking my own meals, vegetables are all I can think about.
So after a couple hours at the grocery store stocking up my pantry and fridge, I am ready to get started.
I’m talking vegetables.
I’m talking no meat.
I’m talking nothing fried.
I’m talking no pasta.
I’m talking 13 Bean and Kale Soup.
Mmmm. My tummy can’t wait.
I should warn you before we start that my philosophy on soup isn’t to get it done fast. I like to let my soup cook slowly – I leave it and go do something else. So as far as times go, my times are rough estimates according to when I added things or changed the heat. If you find that your soup is getting done faster go ahead to the next step.
Moving on… here’s the recipe:
13 Bean and Kale Soup
2 cups beans (read comment below)
2 Tablespoons bacon grease (or olive oil)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 small red onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Tony Chachere’s, to taste – This is a Cajun seasoning that I use a lot in my cooking for some added spice. You don’t have to use this. You can replace it with red pepper or hot sauce, whichever you prefer.
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup white wine
Start out by placing your beans in a bowl or pot and covering with water. Let sit overnight (or 6-8 hours).
Ok, a little note on the beans. I bought a 13 bean soup mix at Central Market that was basically just 13 types of beans mixed together. From what I can tell, there are black-eyed peas, yellow and brown lentils, yellow and green split peas, some chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, great northern beans (that puts me at 9)…. and a few others. But… the catch is…. I forgot to take a pic of those bad boys. So, I’m just gonna say: If you have a Central Market nearby, hit up their bulk section and buy some of the bean mix. If not, choose a bean, any bean. There will, however, be some variation in terms of amount of liquid needed and cooking time dependent upon the bean that you choose. In researching, I also discovered that Bob’s Red Mill makes a 13 Bean Mix also… so that’s another option.
Now that that is out of way. Let’s continue.
Once your beans have spent several hours soakin’ up water, you can start on the soup. Begin by chopping up all your veggies and garlic. Over medium heat, heat bacon grease or olive oil – I use bacon grease because it lends a richer flavor that olive oil doesn’t have – in a large stockpot or dutch oven. (I got to use my new Le Creuset dutch oven for the first time!)
Throw the chopped veggies and garlic into the pot and let them cook, stirring every now and then, until the celery and onions are tender, about 10-15 minutes. You may need to turn the heat down a bit towards the end so they cook more slowly and don’t burn.
Now add chicken broth and water. Stir around until combined and add drained and rinsed beans. Season with a few dashes of salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere’s (a cajun seasoning), and cumin. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour (check on it and stir every 10 minutes or so).
While that is boiling away, you can go ahead and chop up the kale. Wash bunch of kale and then cut out the thick rib that runs through the center of each leaf and discard the rib. Chop up remaining leaves to about 1-inch width.
After 1 hour, reduce the heat to medium-low. At this point you can also taste the soup and decide if you need more salt, pepper, or Tony’s. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1 cup red wine.
Also, go ahead and throw in the chopped kale. Stir in the kale until it’s all mixed in. Recover the pot and let cook until the kale has wilted and all the beans are done – about 30 more minutes. Once the beans are tender, check the flavors again and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Turn the heat off and let the soup sit, covered for about 15 minutes just so the spices and flavors can meld together a bit more.
Serve soup topped with Parmesan cheese and toast or by itself.
Since I usually am the only person eating soup whenever I make it, I like to put about 2 servings in the fridge and freeze the rest. An easy way to freeze soups that saves so much space in the freezer is to freeze them flat on a cookie sheet in quart-sized or gallon-sized freezer bags. Once they are frozen, you can take the bags off the cookie sheet and stack them, however you need to, in the freezer.