Monday, February 13, 2012

navy bean and kale soup

When you're out of food and it's the coldest day of the season (Winter? What's that?), there's a strong internal battle going on between your stomach and your extremities. Stomach says "go grocery shopping, or eat that whole bag of chips. Whichever, really" but extremities say "are you crazy? Do not, under any circumstances, go outside. Have you heard the wind lately? kthanks." It's super hard to make a decision under these circumstances, but I'm fairly certain I made the right one.

Grocery shopping is an interesting experience for anyone who dares go with me. I make a list beforehand, which is typically small enough to qualify me for the express aisle at checkout. When I get to the store, I grab a basket instead of a cart because my list is so tiny, I just need a few things! They'll all fit in one basket and one very large reusable bag. I'd like to say I've learned from my mistakes, but that would be a blatant lie. Pretty much every time, I end up awkwardly carrying enough food to fit in a cart, and I curse myself for not bringing five reusable bags. What can I say? I get sidetracked easily. For this, I'd like to thank my dad, who would go to Price Club for peanut butter or batteries and come back with a carload that made us question whether the store had anything left for anyone else. Those were the good ol' days...

Today I made another unsuccessful attempt at keeping things minimal. I actually did fairly well with my list (I only bought two items not on the list, and one of them was just accidentally left off - I swear), but I must have been smoking something when I left the apartment with just one bag. I don't know why I keep doing this to myself. 

But I digress.

This soup reminds me of one served at a restaurant where I used to work. It's perfect for a cold day like the ones we've been having lately, it's a super healthy (and filling) grab-and-go lunch option, and a large batch of it comes together in just a few minutes (not counting cook time, of course. I'm not that good). Win-win, right?

Navy Bean and Kale Soup (8 servings/ 2c each)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 pieces celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-15oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups (one 16oz bag) dry navy beans
4 leaves kale, de-stemmed and broken into small pieces
2 cups beef broth (chicken or veggie would work, this what I had on hand)
6 cups water
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon dry basil
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a stockpot (4-quart or larger). Sautee onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic, and sautee for another 8-10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except the kale and stir a bit to mix everything in. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for at least an hour, until beans have cooked fully and softened. Add kale and cook for another 20 minutes or so. I actually left this on the stove for about two hours to reduce a bit. If you like your soup thicker, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a small amount of water, then add to the soup. You could also mix in milk or cream (I prefer a clear broth) and simmer to reduce.

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