Kale and White Bean Soup

Kale and White Bean Soup // A Thought For Food

I’d like to think my grandfather would’ve enjoyed this soup. My grandfather (we called him “Pop”) loved soup. He loved it so much that he’d finish his bowl before anyone else at the table. However, this wasn’t just the case with soup. Pop was a very fast eater, a habit he picked up during his years as a pediatrician. With limited time for meals, he’d scarf down what was in front of him so he could get back to the hospital. I remember moments as a child when he’d come home for lunch. Within five-minutes he’d be clearing his plate, give me a pat on the head, and be out the door.

Pop passed away a few weeks ago, just shy of turning 91 (his birthday was December 31st). Eric and I spent most of the holiday week down in New Jersey with my family. It felt good to tell stories about him, to laugh a bit. But processing someone’s death is never quick (nor should it be)… this will take some time.

Kale and White Bean Soup // A Thought For Food


Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato, 1/4 inch dice
1 pound kale, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
Black pepper
1-32 oz container low-sodium vegetable broth
1-16 oz can cannellini beans, drained
1-8 oz can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
1 piece parmesan rind
Grated parmesan, for serving

Add oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium-high heat. After 30 seconds, add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add sweet potato and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in kale. Once the kale has wilted, add the rosemary, parmesan rind and vegetable broth. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Stir in beans and canned tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms

Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net
Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net

After Spain, I figured I was finished with traveling for the year. And then an e-mail came asking if I wanted to check out St. Petersburg, Florida, and then head out to Orlando for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. How could I refuse such an offer? St. Pete has a fun, budding food scene; and what was nice to see was how supportive everyone is of other businesses, with each brewery, bartender, and chef suggesting I go to this place or that. Too many places, in fact... so another trip will have to be planned. Additionally, the city has a nice art community, with 70+ urban murals scattered around the Downtown area, as well as the Dali Museum and Chihuly Collection, both of which I was able to tour (though they were brief visits). On Monday, I made my way over to Epcot for their annual culinary festival. It's the over-the-top experience one expects from Disney, with all the sounds, smells, and whirling gizmos. What I wasn't prepared for was how delicious the dishes would all be. Each plate felt authentic and not some bastardized version of the country's food. I ate a lot, but I also walked a ton (even as an adult, Epcot felt enormous). I hadn't really seen myself making a trip to Disney World, but I would definitely return for a repeat of this event. 

And my travels aren't over. I'm now in Oregon visiting Harry and David (known for their pears, as well as their extensive catalog of products). I'm here for a few days and then I head back to Boston. And I really need to start thinking about our Friendsgiving menu. There are a few dishes on my brain, like this warm wild rice and kale salad. It's one of those creations that came to me after returning from picking up produce at our coop. The pairing of earthy mushrooms, sweet sautéed kale, and the spices and lemon zest make for a vibrant side. 

Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net
Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net
Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net
Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net
Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms from www.athoughtforfood.net

Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms

4-6 servings, as a side


1 cup wild rice, rinsed
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves ripped into bite-size pieces
1 pound oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
Olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest of a lemon

Add rice, 3 cups water, and 2 teaspoons salt to a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 45 minutes. If there is any remaining liquid, transfer the rice to a colander. 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until they are tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, followed by the red pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the kale to the pan (if necessary, do this in stages to keep it from overflowing the pan) and cook until wilted. Season with salt.

Transfer rice to a serving bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables to the bowl, and sprinkle the cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and lemon zest on top. Using a large spoon, mix until thoroughly combined.  Season with salt, to taste.

Kale, Green Bean, and Lentil Salad with Crispy Tofu

Am I the only one who isn't over kale? I never became obsessed with it the way others did. Maybe that's why I still dig it. As a salad base, it holds up under bold dressings, never getting limp or soggy (Eric calls this "Dead Salad," which is something he actually enjoys eating. Don't ask me why. It's one of his quirks that I've grown to tolerate). Initially, this was going to be a green bean dish, but when I was at the store, things just ended up in my basket. The kale, some lentils, a container of tofu. And I thought, "Hey, these would all go nicely together!" Funny how that happens.

As is the case with all successful dishes, this bowl didn't last long.  (The photo down there of the half-eaten salad wasn't just me styling the plate... that's how it really looked). There was just enough left over to throw a container in the fridge. When I went back and hour later to grab another forkful, I found that it'd gotten even better, the kale tenderized and the flavors dispersed. So, if you can be patient, it's worth the wait. 

Kale, green bean, and lentil salad with crispy tofu

4-6 as a side

Tuscan kale, rinsed and stems removed
3/4 cup cooked lentils
1, 14 oz block extra firm tofu
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
Chinese five spice blend
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Line a large plate with a couple pieces of paper towel. Place the block of tofu on the paper towel and weigh it down with something (a heavy can will do), to release as much liquid as possible. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a serving bowl. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice blend and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to bowl with the kale.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and season with a sprinkle of salt and a dusting of Chinese five spice blend. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same wok and set over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown even. Transfer the tofu to the bowl with the kale and green beans. 

Add the lentils on top of the other ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking together sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the dressing on on top and, using tongs, toss to combine. 

You can serve immediately, but it gets better if it sits for 30 minutes (or a few hours).