Kale and White Bean Soup
This soup is very satisfying and nutritional powerhouse. Kale is an excellent source of vitamins, calcium, phytonutrients, and fiber. The beans are a great source of protein and fiber, which help lower cholesterol, stabilize hormones, and promote digestive health. This soup will hold well for up to a week, and freezes marvelously.
• 1 lb dried white beans such as Great Northern, cannellini, or navy
• 2 onions, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth or organic bullion w/5 cups water
• 2 qt water
• **1 (3- by 2-inch) piece 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 such as kielbasa (optional), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
• 8 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into ½ -inch pieces
• 1 lb kale (preferably lacinato), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
**leave this out for a VEGAN version
Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse.
Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water, cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 45 minutes.
While soup is simmering, brown sausage (if using) in batches in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, turning, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
Stir carrots into soup and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in kale, sausage, and remaining quart water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.