A grounding Tuscan-style, garlicky Lemon White Bean Kale Soup, prepared from scratch using whole dried beans. True soul food and best enjoyed with a rustic knob of sourdough.
I know this isn’t the most Summery of recipes, but I have been in need of some seriously grounding nourishment of late. Both my partner and I have been working so hard recently, and truthfully I do worry that we are burning up our stores of jing – or essence/life force – as they say in Chinese Medicine.
Ideally a work-life balance should be maintained in order to keep your mind and body well.
However, there are times that simply call more of you to forefronts – and that’s perfectly ok. I think the trick, is to acknowledge these periods of time when they arrive, and hold the intention that this is just a temporary phase, with order and restoration to follow.
What I’m trying to say is, sometimes it is totally appropriate and needed, to hustle!
Anyway, we’re in said phase at the moment. It’s not a natural place for me to be operating from, so I’m drawing on food as medicine to nourish the body as best I possibly can.
When your energy is very outward like this, I find raw foods and salads don’t quite cut the mustard. You need to counter balance with earthy, rich and grounding foods. And so, this soup is the perfect answer.
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Lemon White Bean Kale Soup
This isn’t too dissimilar from the type of soups I grew up with, particularly the types my Nana used to make.
Dried beans, soaked then cooked in a homemade broth, with plenty of olive oil and garlic (it’s a Croatian thing!), and home grown vegetables added just before serving.
White beans can refer to either the larger cannellini beans (which I have used), or the smaller navy beans. They are far more enjoyable dried and cooked vs canned. It’s no chore to soak them in advance, you simply need to have them on the stove a little longer.
Beans contain a good amount of oligosaccharides: types of carbohydrates/fibre that pass through the small bowel undigested, arriving at the colon where they provide food for the resident beneficial bacteria (Bifidobasteria and Lactobaccilli).
In other words, they are a prebiotic (discussed in detail on my post on prebiotics here).
As a wee bit of a catch 22, when using dried beans, a significant amount of these oligosaccharides leach into the water. So, the pro’s of soaking beans include a reduced cooking time and less gastrointestinal gas (a by-product of beneficial bacteria feasting on these lovely oligosaccharides!), and the con’s of course are that you simply get less of that health-promoting prebiotic fibre!
Anyway – I opted to soak this time – I felt I could do without the gas!
Other wonderful benefits imparted from the humble bean include energy and protein – just what I needed to replenish lost stores. They’re also a good source of the B vitamin folate, iron, and potassium.
The only unusual ingredient here is the kombu strip. Kombu is a type of hardy seaweed that is incredibly mineral rich.
Often used in Macrobiotic cooking, it is added to dishes for a nutritional booster – then discarded after use. I just happen to be in a habit of adding it to my cooking but it is totally optional. If you want to experiment, look out for it at a natural foods store.
I hope you enjoy this nourishing pot of goodness – and if you are also in a temporary state of conscious hustle – please be gentle with yourself!
If you make and enjoy this recipe, please leave a rating below. And better yet – leave me a comment to tell me how you got on, or just say hi – I LOVE hearing from you. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest to see more of my everyday recipes and wellness tips.
Lemon White Bean Kale Soup
Serves 2. Note prep time is 20 minutes + the 12 hour soak time if using dried beans.
- 150 g cannellini beans dried (see notes re. using canned, pre-cooked beans)
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large white onion diced
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon thyme dried
- 1 inch strip kombu
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 small potatoes peeled and cubed (about ¾ cup)
- 1 cup kale very tightly packed (preferably Lacinato kale, curly kale isn't as nice a texture)
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- Soak dried beans in ample water (they will double in size) for at least 12 hours, the drain and rinse, ready to cook.
- In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook diced onion till soft and golden.
- Add water and stock, dried beans, garlic, thyme, kombu and bay leaves. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 40 minutes.
- While the soup base cooks, wash kale, remove tough inner stalks, then slice into thin one inch ribbons – take your time with this, it is far nicer to have small delicate pieces.
- After 30 minutes, add the potato, and leave to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, at which point, both beans and potatoes should be soft. Fish out the bay leaves and kombu and discard. Now use a potato masher to carefully mash the beans/potatoes so about half of them are mashed and half whole (if beans/potatoes aren’t soft yet continue to cook a little longer).
- Add kale, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Note the water content – you may be just right, you may need to top up, or even cook uncovered to reduce it down.
- By now, your total cooking time should be about an hour and ten minutes.
- Once kale has just softened, add another tablespoon of olive oil, and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps a sprinkle of nut parmesan!
- You can make this with pre-cooked, canned beans – one 400g tin should do the trick – just rinse and drain before cooking, and use much less water/stock (perhaps 4 cups total liquid). Your cooking time will drastically reduce also.
- If you have a large enough pot – this is a great recipe to double then freeze.
- Try adding a finely sliced fennel bulb to the pot as your fry the onion – yum.
- Try using diced parsnip or swede in place of potato if you need to adapt this to be nightshade free.
- I know it sounds a lot, but trust me – 8 cloves of garlic is just fine!
- Nutrition panel is an estimate only, based on one serving size.