Kale & White Bean Soup

Update 3/16/12:  I shared this recipe in February through a Linky on the Gooseberry Patch blog.   But I forgot to link to it, here.  My apologies to Gooseberry Patch who so graciously posted my link.

A week or so ago we drove up to Meadow Farm Foods in Fergus Falls, MN.  Meadow Farm is a wonderful family owned store that sells natural foods and spices.  I could browse around their cozy shopping aisles all day.

They were celebrating their fall Open House and had prepared lots of samples of their excellent natural foods for everyone to try.

This soup was one of the offerings and it was SO delicious!  The recipe was available for anyone who wanted it…I did.   Yesterday, I prepared it and although I made a few necessary changes (see *), it was essentially the same.

Kale and White Bean Soup

What you need:
1 lb. dried white beans (Great Northern, cannellini or navy)*
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
2 quarts water (divided)
1 (3-by 2-inch) piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind*
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay  leaf (not California)*
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary*
1 lb. smoked sausage (optional), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
8 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound kale (preferably lacinato) stems and outer ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped*

What you do:
Place beans in a pot and cover with water by two inches.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let stand, uncovered for 1 hour.  Drain beans in a colander and rinse.

Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low head, stirring occasionally until softened (4 to 5 minutes).  Add garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add beans, broth, 1 quart of water, cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary.  Simmer, uncovered until beans are just tender (about 50 minutes).

Meanwhile, brown sausage (if using) in a heavy skillet over moderate heat.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Stir carrots into soup and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in the kale, sausage and remaining quart of water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender…about 12 to 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

*A couple of notes:

  1. I used Great Northern beans.
  2. I spent $15.00 on a chunk of  Parmigiano-Reggiano just to get the rind!  I know…crazy!  That’s one of the drawbacks of living in a small community.  You might be able to buy just the rind at a whole food type of market.  Luckily, you can freeze it and use it more than once.
  3. I’m not sure what type of bay leaves I have but I’m certain that they’re not the California variety.  I bought them in bulk at Meadow Farm.   There’s a good explanation of the differences at Help With Cooking.com.
  4. I used dried rosemary since my fresh rosemary plant bit the dust awhile back…same amount.
  5. The kale that I used was not lacinto.  I know that because it had green and white leaves and lacinto (or Tuscan kale, as it is known) has dark blue-green leaves.  I didn’t chop the leaves because they weren’t large in the first place).  You can read more about all the varieties at World’s Healthiest Foods

Now about Meadow Farm Foods…coincidentally, it’s owned by our sister-in-law, Joan. She and her late husband (Jack’s brother) founded it 30 years ago. In fact, the Meadow Farm Foods 30th Anniversary celebration was just last month and it was so much fun!

People come from all over when Meadow Farm has an open house.  You can read all about it if you click on the “Our Story” link on their webpage.

Jack drives to the Twin Cities every two weeks to pick up supplies for the store at various locations. One of the stops is at a working flour mill called Swany White which is in Freeport, a small town between here and Minneapolis. There’s also a bakery in the little town of Albany that supplies Meadow Farm with frozen bakery items all ready to pop in the oven and bake.
If you want to send someone a gift of Minnesota products, you should check out the lovely gift baskets they prepare each year. They sell hundreds of them!