Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kale & White Bean Soup - For Christa

Click on cover to enlarge - © 1985 Edward Espe Brown/Shambala

Click on recipe to enlarge © 1985 Edward Espe Brown/Shambala

Our Mother's Day post brought a question from Christa, at the Calendula & Concrete blog, about how we use kale, so I thought I'd post one of our all-time favorite bean soup recipes. This delicious soup is just one great way to make use of kale. Try it once and you'll be hooked. We don't use the "cream to finish" option, it's creamy enough as is.

Yum! There's nothin' like a good pot of beans...

We're not vegetarians but we have stacks of vegetarian cookbooks and the Tassajara Recipe Book is full of healthful tasty dishes that please our down-home natural-food loving palates.

Addendum-10 A.M.

We also use kale sauteed or stir-fried with garlic & spices in a similar fashion to the delicious sounding suggestions Roger, of the Dharma Bums blog, left in his comment here, and we often add seeds & nuts (sunflower seeds, shelled pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, etc.) to our greens, sometimes serving them with red quinoa, brown rice, millet, or Indian Rice Grass (when we can get it).

The youngest tenderest leaves of kale are aslo a tasty addition to fresh green salads, where we might combine them with several lettuces and spinach from our garden, as well as with young dandelion leaves (before they flower because they become bitter after flowering), lamb's quarters/goosefoot (chenopodium), or amaranth leaves---three very edible, tasty, and highly nutritional 'weeds' growing in our native plant garden.

Two other cookbooks we often refer to, which might be relevant here, are, 'Greens Glorious GREENS!', by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers, and, 'Hot & Spicy & Meatless', by Dave DeWitt, Mary Jane Wilan, and Melissa T. Stock.

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Blogger roger said...

we like kale chopped and sauteed with shredded coconut. garlic helps. maybe some cayenne. or hot sesame oil.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


That sounds delicious too! I think I'll put something like that together this afternoon. We've never thought of trying it with coconut or spicy sesame oil although we do heat up many of our dishes with chilis, chili sauces or our home-grown horseradish.

9:47 AM  
Blogger arcolaura said...

Yummy! But with all the canola fields around here, we can't grow cabbage family veggies at all except under cover. Last year I had some success with a floating row cover, but I think it limited the water reaching the plants.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Christa said...


Thank you for posting this soup recipe for me; how kind of you! I also have sage growing in my garden (a lot of it), so I can use that in this soup as well.

I see the recipe calls for nutrutional yeast. What is that exactly?

2:01 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


Tell me more about your problems with canola fields and growing other brassica family plants???


About nutritional yeast, from Jolinda Hackett at www.About:VegetarianCuisine

"Yellow in color and with a nutty cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is a favorite amongst many vegans because of its unique flavor and similarity to cheese when added to foods. Sprinkle some on hot popcorn or garlic bread, or add a generous spoonful to a stir fry or pasta sauce. Nutritional yeast is also the only reliable food source of vitamin B12, so if you’re vegan, it’s a good idea to add some to your food regularly. Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk or supplement section of your health food store. You can look for either nutritional yeast flakes or powder, but be sure you don’t get brewer’s yeast by mistake, as its quite similar in appearance."

3:10 PM  
Blogger arcolaura said...

It's the flea beetles, Jim, and probably other brassica-loving insects. Cabbage, broccoli, turnips - they all get chewed to a skeleton if left unprotected. Mom and Dad are a little better off up in the hills away from the cropland, but not much. I'm planning to try the turnips under the floating row cover again this year, with some drip irrigation set up under the cover so I can water from the rain barrel without taking the cover off. Another possibility might be to attach some drip starters to the underside of the cover, so that rain drips through at various points instead of mostly running off to the sides.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make a soup that is almost like this, except I don't use the nutritional yeast (but it's a good idea, so I might try it) and I use olive oil instead of butter. I really enjoyed seeing you mention lamb's quarters! These greens are among my favorites. Every early spring, when it's still a bit chilly out, my "tonic" is to make a big pot of white bean soup and stir lamb's quarter in right near the end. I guess white beans are a good host to any greens. I also love the Tassajara cookbooks. And I think the placemat is lovely. Glad to see you back posting, Jim! - Kathy in Kentucky

4:50 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


So, because of large single-crop farming of canola attracting a narrow range of insects you can't grow the cabbage family without spraying or maybe using floating row covers?

Just one more example of the destructiveness of large-scale commercial farming.

Have you read the 1978 book 'The One Straw Revolution' by Masanobu Fukuoka?

He's the Japanese ag. researcher turned farmer & philosopher who practiced a wonderfully simple form of highly productive "natural farming".

The book is out of print and expensive, but you might find it in a library.

I know you would love this man and his ideas.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


We've been making Lamb's Quarters Quiche for about a decade, since we discovered the stuff growing in wild abundance on our property was edible, tasty, and highly nutritional.

We also use home-grown Stinging Nettle to make nettle butter.

Absolutely delicious with fish.

8:50 AM  
Blogger arcolaura said...

Must read that book, Jim. It keeps coming up. I think I actually had it in my hands once, during grad school, when I had way too much to read already. I think I need a "read next winter" list.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This recipe is rightup my alley. I am going to see if I can find that book. Unfortunately, it's too warm here (high 80's) to even think about eating any soup that is not chilled so this one will have to be shelved for another season. Thanks for sharing!

9:38 AM  
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