winter is determined to stick around and make us miserable. while the northeast gets to dig out of snowfall after snowfall, we just get colder and colder. it is true that it does get cold in nashville and in winter, it is not uncommon for the temps to drop to the 20 degree mark. but consecutive days with single digit lows and highs in the teens, that is not normal. luckily, having a pot of soup simmering on the stove is all it takes to bite back the chill.
i love a good white bean soup but i find that most recipes are heavy on the beans and almost always include a large portion of smoky bacon or ham products. what i was craving this afternoon was a good old bowl of italian style white bean and escarole soup; a hearty broth served with beans, a little vegetable and a lot of bitter greens. since i didn’t have any “shcarole,” i had to settle for some kale and quite honestly, it was just as good. to keep it vegan and heart healthy, i used vegetable broth as a base, diced mushrooms to give it a “meaty” texture (and an umami factor) and to add a little authenticity, a small amount of smoke flavor. it was all i needed to chase away the chill.
vegan white bean and kale soup
makes about 1 1/2 quarts
(about 4-12 ounce servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 cup fresh button mushrooms-about 4 large ones, diced small
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can white beans; navy, great northern or cannellini (or you can cook 1 cup dried)
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups fresh kale, torn and loosely packed in the cup
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch or two of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1 teaspoon smoke flavor-to your taste
if you will be cooking your own beans, do that before starting the soup. when the beans are ready, then begin cooking the vegetables. if you are using canned beans, drain and rinse them before adding them to the soup.
in a 4 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onions, carrots and mushrooms and saute until the onions are translucent. add the garlic and saute for a minute or two. add the beans, broth, thyme and red pepper flakes, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the soup until the carrots are soft. add the kale and smoke flavor and allow to simmer for a few minutes to wilt the kale. season with salt and pepper and serve with freshly baked bread.