Tuscan-Style White Bean and Garlic Soup with Baby Kale
By Heidi Allison
This Tuscan-style white bean and garlic soup makes a healthy, quick dinner that freezes well… perfect for the lazy days of summer. Full of fresh veggies and garden herbs, this vegetarian soup is topped with salty, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese right before serving for extra flavor-- you won’t miss the meat! The bland beans are fortified with aromatic vegetables—onion, celery and garlic—which slowly cook in olive oil until the vegetables are soft and sweet, before adding the beans and liquid. One caveat: do not add the time-saving canned beans too early in the cooking process, or the soup will take on a mushy texture.
Five cloves of smashed garlic lend a heady, garlicky hit—the foundation of this soup’s unique, comforting flavor. Garlic is the keynote player here—it’s oily and pungent, which smoothes out the sourness of the baby kale, while sweetening the “grassiness” of the spinach. Garlic also masks (or, tempers) the medicinal bitterness of the rosemary, leaving mostly its herbaceous scent. It is a multi-tasker that should not be dialed down.
Another crucial “secret ingredient,” lemon, is added to “brighten” the soup’s flavor, and should be incorporated right before serving. Add a thick slice of garlicky parmesan cheese toast, either served on the side or cut into croutons to float on top of the soup— to complete this light yet satisfying summer meal.
Serves: 3 as an entree; 6-8 as a side
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 large Organic Carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs Organic Celery, diced
6 large cloves Garlic, smashed and chopped
1 teaspoon Rosemary, minced
2 teaspoon Thyme, minced
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
6 cups Water
3 15-oz. cans of White Beans, drained but not rinsed
3 ripe Roma Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼ inch strips
5 cups Baby Kale, rinsed, stems removed and shredded (about 7 ounces)
2 cups Baby Spinach, chopped (about 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice (about 1 large Lemon) and zest
2 ounces Good Quality Parmigano-Reggiano Cheese, grated
4 slices Toasted Garlic Bread (optional)
Salt to taste
Place olive oil in a soup pot and heat over medium heat; add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 4 minutes or until soft. Add =rosemary, thyme and bay leaf and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water and cook for 30 minutes, on medium-low heat, uncovered.
Add beans, tomatoes, baby kale, spinach, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes, uncovered on medium-low heat or until the greens are bright green and wilted. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and stir.
Ladle into warmed soup bowls; add grated cheese, the garlic toast or croutons, if using, and serve.