Since winter is finally here, I figured we’d kick off the new season with a wintery Tuscan kale soup!
There is actually a classic Tuscan kale soup recipe that uses tuscan (dinosaur) kale, cannellini beans, and lots of Italian herbs. What I wanted to create here is my own spin on that idea. Yes, this soup has tuscan kale, cannellini beans, and herbs but it’s also pureed (because who likes bites of wilted kale?) and includes cashew cream and lemon. In the end, it’s a fantastic winter meal that highlights the best parts of kale.
You see, the thing about kale is that it’s a complex creature. Think of it like a person; we’re much better off highlighting the bright, positive aspects of our personality while toning down the angry bitter side, right? When cooking with kale, it’s our job to manage its temperament in the same way, and I think this soup does a great job of that. The lemon and herbs brighten the flavors, while the cashew/sunflower cream add depth and richness. Overall, it’s one delicious meal packed with nutrients, and the best part? It can literally be completed from start to finish in under 30 minutes.
Makes 4-5 servings
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups grated white potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 stalks celery
- 7 cups chopped kale
- 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/4+ teaspoon each: rosemary, thyme & oregano
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2-3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
- Kale chips (below, optional)
Prep: add the cashews and sunflower seeds a dish with warm water to soak for at least 30-60 minutes before blending in step six.
In a medium stockpot, bring the 4 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer while you peel and grate 2 potatoes until you have about 2 cups. Add the potatoes into the stockpot along with a pinch of herbs: oregano, rosemary, thyme. You can also use fresh herbs and throw a whole sprig of each into the pot (to be removed later)
In another larger stockpot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in a chopped onion, 3 chopped stalks of celery, and 3 minced cloves of garlic. Don’t worry about cutting these evenly because they will be blended soon. Add a splash of water and a grind of salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes until the onions turn translucent.
Chop some fresh kale leaves until you have about 7 (yes, seven) cups when measured in a loosely-packed measuring cup. This seems like a huge amount but it’s really not; it’s only about the size of a typical store-bought bunch and it boils down into almost nothing. Throw these into the pot along with a (drained) can of cannellini / white kidney beans. Allow to simmer until the kale is dramatically reduced.
Next, pour the simmering vegetable broth and potatoes into the larger pot with the veggies and beans (don’t forget to discard the sprigs of herbs first, if using). Stir everything together and give this another 2-3 minutes of simmering.
Carefully transfer this mixture to a blender and blend until everything is fully pureed. You may have to do this in two batches. Alternatively, you can use a stick/immersion blender if you have one. Return to the pot and allow to continue simmering, meanwhile…
Make a bit of cashew/sunflower cream to add some richness. To do this, drain the cashews & sunflower seeds, then pop them in the blender with a little water and salt, blend until completely smooth. Transfer this cream into the soup – reserving a few tablespoons for garnish. Also at this point, add in a little more herbs and the juice of one lemon. If it tastes a little flat at this point, more salt and pepper will boost the flavors. Give the soup at least 10 more minutes to simmer; 15-20 is ideal.
To serve, top with toasted pine nuts, kale chips pieces (below), and a drizzle of the reserved cashew cream. Buon appetito!
Kale Chips – to make simple kale chips, tear some kale leaves (any type, but tuscan kale works well) into pieces a little larger than the palm of your hand, transfer to a large bowl, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Rub each piece to coat with the oil then transfer to a baking sheet to dehydrate at about 220º F for about 20 minutes until the chips are crispy but not burned.