I haven’t exactly been present on this blog. This last year has brought a lot of changes to my life: work has been busier than ever, I’m eating more healthfully, and having taken up running means that I get less time at night to prepare (let alone photograph) supper. But when I saw Branny’s Souper Bowl post invitation, I knew I had to participate.
We have two cats. Ever since I found out that I’m not actually allergic to cats, I’ve known that I wanted a couple and that I wanted to adopt them (rather than buy a specific breed). Both of ours came from the local shelter, and both have very distinct personalities. Sierra, the first cat we got and the older of the two, is a cuddle-bug… for about two minutes. Then she’s out of your arms and dashing away to go off on her own… but if you wait long enough, she’ll be back, for two more minutes of intense cuddling, purring, and marking your chin with her nose. In any case, this post is dedicated to Sierra, our quiet furball.
Up close, wanting some love. (Soup in the background!)
This soup has been one of my winter staples until recently. Bacon, homemade croutons, and soft slumped kale- what’s not to like?! It’s filling, salty and almost buttery. The bacon adds some chew, while the veggies and beans bring the heft. I’ve made it with both curly and lacinato kale, and both work just fine. And if you’re a fan of chorizo or sausage, you may want to try that instead of the bacon. But one thing is for sure- do not skip the homemade croutons.
1 pound or 2 cans white beans (if you can’t get fresh dried beans, go with canned)
4 slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 bay leaf
1/4 to 1/2 t. sage and thyme each (to your taste)
3 -4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced (save the leafy greens if you’ve still got them)
5-6 cups chicken stock
1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the beans: if using dried beans, soak overnight and boil for 30 minutes, or prepare according to package directions. They don’t need to be totally soft as they will simmer in the soup. If using canned beans, drain and rinse; set aside.
In a large dutch oven or kettle, fry the bacon in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes over medium or medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and sautee for 4-5 minutes more. Add garlic, sage, thyme, and bay leaf, and stir while cooking for a minute. Add carrots and celery, stir, and saute briefly; add chicken stock and beans, and bring soup to a simmer.
Simmer the soup for at least 25 minutes, but up to an hour to combine flavors and soften vegetables. Stir in the chopped kale (and the celery greens if you’ve got them), return up to a simmer, and allow the kale to wilt in the soup, about 15 minutes. (If you want a bite to your kale, watch closely and only cook for about 5 minutes. I like mine silky soft and slumpy on my spoon.) Season with salt and pepper, and serve with homemade salted croutons.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small sautee pan on medium high. While melting, add 1/2-3/4 cup bread cubes. Sprinkle with a few pinches of good salt. Toss bread around and allow to brown for 2-3 minutes between stirs, for a total of 8-10 minutes. Serve warm or at room-temperature with soup.