Kale and Beans – a Winning Combo!

Watching The Kitchen on the Food Network, I learned that kale is the second most searched food on their website, right after chicken and right before quinoa. That’s great news since kale is a nutrition powerhouse. A member of the cabbage (cruciferous) family, kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K and potassium. It’s also a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium and lutein. It’s very low in calories – only 33 calories per cup.

According to David Grotto, RD, LDN, in his book, The Best Things You Can Eat, kale is one of the best. Kale is good eaten raw, cooked or juiced. Grotto reports that a study of men with high cholesterol who drank a little over a ½ cup of kale juice daily for 3 months saw their HDL (good) cholesterol significantly increase and their LDL (bad) cholesterol decrease. Also, high intakes of cruciferous vegetables may lead to reduced risk of developing breast, prostate, lung, esophagus and mouth cancers.

Beans are also nutrition powerhouses. They are high in protein, potassium, magnesium and folate. They are one of the best sources of fiber and help to promote regularity, reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of certain types of cancer.

Since I love both kale and beans, I looked up several different kale and bean soup recipes and combined them to make this soup. It was a winner with my family.

Kale and White Bean Soup

Ingredients:

• 1 onion, diced
• 2 stalks celery, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 6-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth or water, depending how think you prefer your soup
• 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus 1 small piece rind, if available
• 1/4 cup small pasta (pastina) – I used stars
• 2 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 bunch of fresh kale (about ½-1 lb), broken into 2 inch pieces (stems removed)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in soup pot and add onion and celery and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until soft. Add chicken broth, pastina, beans, rosemary and parmesan rind. Increase the heat, cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and lower heat to a simmer for about 5-10 minutes until all is soft. Remove the parmesan rind and stir in ½ of the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining cheese.

I served this with Portuguese saloio bread that was sliced, lightly baked with olive oil, garlic and herbs and a tossed salad. Enjoy! Do you have a favorite kale soup recipe?

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