Last night's dinner was one of those meals that just feels good in your tummy and soul. It's simple and uses wholesome ingredients, and just a few ingredients at that. I feel silly even calling this a "recipe." However, it's so good that I can't help but to share it. In addition, since most of it is crock-pot based, Shana and I eat this nearly year-round. Warm soup in the winter, doesn't heat up the kitchen in the summer. Last night was cool enough that we turned on the oven for a bit to have some crusty bread, too.
I'm lying a little bit when I say this is a crockpot recipe. Although you could do almost all of it in the crockpot, I do not, for various reasons. I saute the onions & garlic before they go in the crockpot, as doing so increases the flavor and makes sure the onions are nice and soft. In addition, while you can add the pasta to the soup in the last hour of cooking, I don't like the texture of it quite as much. Finally, the kale must be cooked separately, because as it cooks it imparts a bitter flavor to the soup. Thus, I end up with a crockpot full of only a few things cooking away all day. Having tried this soup without the crockpot, however, it's just not quite the same (still good, but not as good).
Crockpot White Bean and Kale Soup
Adapted from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker (page 37)
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 c. veggie broth
1 large bunch kale
3/4 c. uncooked ditalini pasta
1. The night before you plan to cook this (or the morning of), saute the onion while you're cooking dinner, adding the garlic when the onions are close to soft. Put it in the fridge overnight.
2. In the morning, put the onion, garlic, beans, broth, and red pepper in a large crockpot.
3. Cook on low 8 hours.
4. About 20 minutes before serving, cook pasta on the stove (but see helpful hints). Drain, then add to soup.
5. At the same time as the pasta, cook kale leaves in boiling water on the stove until soft. Drain, then add to soup.
- The pasta and kale can also be cooked the night before you plan to eat this, simply add them to the soup and let them get hot before serving. If you do this, make sure to rinse the pasta very well before you put it in the fridge.
- Alternatively, you can put the dry pasta in the crockpot about 1 hour before you plan to serve the soup. Often this makes the pasta get kind of gummy and you may need to add more broth. A reminder to not do this with the kale, as it will impart bitterness.
- My favorite broth ratio in this is 4 c. no-chicken broth and 2 c. veggie broth, but use what you like. If you use a soy-free broth, this is a soy-free dinner.
- You can certainly substitute other small pasta shapes (e.g., orzo, mini shells, even macaroni).
- The original recipe called for escarole instead of kale, but if you sub that in, it also needs to be cooked separately. My guess is that most leafy greens would taste good in this recipe, though I'd stay away from leafy greens with very strong flavors (e.g., mustard greens).