Thursday, February 7, 2013

White Bean and Kale Soup

Think about that super simple song you adore, the one that is inexplicably huge, much more than the sum of its two chords and handful of lyrics.

Here are a few of my family's favorites:
Molly's Lips
The Street Where You Live
Wild Thing
Everyday People

I generally believe that less is more - in songs, in life, on drums, and definitely in soup.

But sometimes less is less, sometimes two chords and a handful of lyrics is dead boring or aggressively bad, sometimes simple food can be bland and depressing. If you've ever eaten a watery bowl of under-seasoned bean soup, you know what I mean.

But this is NOT that soup! I'm trying to teach my kids that vegetarian food can be totally satisfying and incredibly delicious, and that if you want to create something simple and elegant, you have to pick the right ingredients in the right amounts. Henry and I worked on this spicy concoction together, and it might not be as sublime as a Troggs song, but it is mysteriously bigger than the sum of its few ingredients, and on a slushy February evening it definitely made my heart sing.

White Bean and Kale Soup
Serves 4 (or 3 is you're very hungry or if one of you is a teenager)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 huge, enormous bunch of kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 or so cups cooked cannellini or navy beans (or 2 14-ounce drained cans)
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne*
1 teaspoon salt

*(Amount could vary depending on the spiciness of your cayenne pepper and your tolerance for heat. This made a fairly zingy soup, which Henry and I LOVED but it was a little too much for Jake).

Warm olive oil in pot over medium high heat, add kale and stir until it starts to sizzle - turn heat down to medium low and continue to stir for 4-5 minutes. Kale will shrink substantially.

Add garlic and stir 1-2 minutes.

Add beans, water, cayenne and salt, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.