Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kale & White Bean Soup

I love catching snippets of other peoples stories. I often find the words of strangers floating over the air and past my ears. Sometimes they are wickedly funny, and sometimes tender. They can be heartbreaking too and deeply relateable. 
I wouldn't call it eves-dropping. I'm not leaning in close to hear a bit of juicy gossip or craning my neck to get a good look at the person on the phone. Its more passive than that, more like receiving a gift. A gift because it makes the individuals I am sharing the space with seem more real and just simply less like, the masses. 

Often, these little soundbites are good enough that I don't want to let them pass by and so jot them hastily down. And every once in a while, I feel like I was meant to hear those words. That I was standing or walking past in that exact moment to hear that exact phrase. 
The other day it happen. As I was gazing out of the window at the London skyline: gherkin, shard, cheese grater ... on a seemingly deserted train into Waterloo I heard, as if from nowhere, "Do you face into the wind?"

Do you know that feeling?When you stand, arms glued to your side, ridged as a board, bald faced with the wind whipping past your ears so fast its dizzying and all you can do is just brace. 

It stuck with me, I didn't even need to write it down. I just kept repeating it over and over to myself. All day, and the next - turning it over, smoothing it down, wearing it away - until it shone. 

This recipe for Kale & White Bean Soup is for those days where you feel like you have spent the entirety of it facing into the wind. 
I have made it possibly hundreds of time - I don't measure anything, I don't count or figure, I just do. And in doing, is has become less of a recipe and more like a salve. 
It is a soup to warm the belly, clear away the cobwebs and bring you back into your self. The cumin and vinegar are the important parts really. You could use anything on hand otherwise (cabbage if not kale, kidneys if not cannellini, faro instead of potato) but below is my preferred ingredient list.

Kale & White Bean Soup

serves 4(ish)

1 large bunch of lacianto kale, chopped
1 16oz can cannellini beans
3 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/4 pieces (preferably scrubbed with skin on)
4 cups good quality stock
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic 
2 tsp cumin 
knob of ghee (or butter or evoo)
salt & pepper to taste 

In a large stock pot saute chopped onion in the ghee over low heat until soft and transparent. Add minced garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add in the cumin and toast until fragrant. Pour in the red wine vinegar. Cook until liquid is reduced by half and then add in the chopped potato. Saute a few minutes more stirring to coat the potatoes in the butter and vinegar mixture. Add the stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and nearly cooked. Then add the kale, cannellini beans and salt & pepper to taste. 
Simmer until kale is tender and potatoes are cooked through. 

Serve topped with a slice or two of parmigiano reggiano, a drizzle of olive oil & crusty bread. 


  1. I made this soup tonight and guessed on the cumin amount. How much do you normally use? Thanks!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Very sorry for the omission in the ingredients list. It should read 2 tsp cumin. I have now amended the recipe to include the cumin measurement.

      How did you go making the soup last night?