Leftover Kale and White Bean Soup

Here’s my inspiration (as usual, found at Epicurious), as well as my personal editing (I’m taking out these parts of the published recipe, and adding in these parts), based on what I actually have on hand:

Kale and White Bean Soup
Gourmet February 2002


  • 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 broth
  • 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 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 lb kale (preferably lacinato), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped relatively finely – I don’t like having long pieces of kale hanging off my soup spoon.

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 50 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.

Cooks’ notes:

  • Soup is best if made 1 or 2 days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Thin with water if necessary.  This is probably the most important note you’ll receive on this recipe – I was completely underwhelmed the first time I tried this recipe.  I only tried it the second day because we’re so committed to eating the food we have whenever possible.  The second day, it had a wonderfully rich broth and became entirely satisfying.  I tried just simmering the soup longer, but apparently the only thing that works is to refrigerate & reheat the soup.  I now make the soup at least a day before it’s on the menu.
  • Lacinato is available at farm stands, specialty produce markets, and natural foods stores. Be aware that it has many aliases: Tuscan kale, black cabbage, cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, and flat black cabbage. I literally use whatever type of kale is included in my CSA share – it has looked both curly & flat in different weeks, and both turn out wonderfully.

There’s something missing in this recipe still.  I’m not sure if it’s that we need more chicken stock instead of water or if it needs more bacon and sausage?  Grated parmesan in addition to the rind?  Those little meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup?  I’m open to suggestions – let me know what you’d do!


1 Comment

  1. Heather said,

    January 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Try a hint of nutmeg.

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