06 December 2011

Easy Winter Vegetable Soup

It's already feeling like winter, even though we're still a couple weeks away. The weather has been very crisp and clear--quite a treat for us in Portland since we're usually in the middle of a month-long stretch of rain at this time of year. With the holidays approaching, our calendar is filling up and I have less time for long-cooking Sunday meals. Kale was on sale, though, and I had to get in one of my favorite soups--kale and white bean soup. I know I've already posted a similar soup before, but this one is so easy, quick and filling, I had to share the latest rendition. And there are really limitless combinations...I happened to have an extra potato hanging around, so I chopped it up and threw it in. There are so many warm, earthy flavors. I just love it.

Winter Vegetable Soup
Serves 6-8

1 T olive oil
3-4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves cut into 1-inch pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small russet potato, chopped
1 t dried thyme (or couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
2 cans white beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over medium heat in Dutch oven or stock pot and add bacon. Cook until bacon has rendered fat and is crisp. Remove bacon from pot and set aside on paper towel lined plate.

Add shallot, carrots, celery, and thyme and cook until softened, but not browned (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add kale and cook until just covered with oil. Add potatoes, rinsed beans and tomatoes, bacon, broth and water, bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to low heat, partially cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add thinly sliced parmesan and serve.

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