Introduction: Bean Soup With Kale
This soup is extremely quick and healthy, making it a perfect weeknight dinner.
6 16oz cans pinto beans*
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
about 1 Tbsp dried summer savory (I measured it in my hand, so you might have to eyeball this one and then adjust the spices later)
4 whole cloves or 1 tsp ground cloves
2 bunches of kale
salt and pepper, to taste
*If you prefer to use dried beans, 1 pound of dried beans should yield 6 cups of beans. So, if we figure that there are about 2 cups per can of beans, you will need 12 cups, or 2 pounds of dry pinto beans. Cook them according to package directions and then proceed with the recipe. (This choice may be the somewhat healthier of the two, but please keep in mind that it will require significantly more time.)
Otherwise, the first step is heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. When it begins to shimmer and shine, it's time to toss in the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are almost transparent.
Next, slice (or mince) your garlic. How much garlic you add to this dish really depends on your personal preference. I would say that 3-4 cloves is a good amount, but you can go with as little as 2 cloves or as much as you want. Toss the garlic in with the onions and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Measure out a small palmful of savory and add this to the onions and garlic, crushing it with your hands as you drop it in. Add the cloves at this point, too.
Pour the undrained beans into the onions. If you are using cooked dry beans, save some of the cooking liquid to add at this stage.
Stir and let the beans and onions cook for about 15 minutes while you prepare the kale.
Speaking of which, first wash and dry the kale. Then you will need to remove the tough stem that runs down the middle of each leaf. This isn't difficult - just run your knife down along each side of the stem, and the leaf will easily come away. Cut the leafy parts into 1-inch strips.
Two bunches of kale does seem like a lot when you have de-stemmed it and cut it up, but believe me, it will cook down nicely when you add it to the beans.
Now is the time to puree the beans. I use an immersion blender, but if you don't have one, a potato masher will work quite well too (in fact, that's how I used to do it before I went and got the blender). The texture shouldn't be perfectly smooth, and leaving some of the beans whole actually adds to the character of the soup.
When you are done pureeing, add the kale all at once. Stir it in and let it it simmer for about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with crumbled feta and a drizzle of olive oil on top and a hearty slice of fresh, crusty bread on the side.
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