Wednesday, October 16, 2013

white bean & kale stew

In a sleepy little university town nestled in the Bannock Range of Idaho, the College of Education could not wait for the weather to turn gray.  For the north wind to chill us to the bone.  For knitted scarves & mittens.  For soup weather.  The department I worked for had the perfect fundraiser during those blustery months, doling out bowls of soup and plates of grilled cheese for a few bucks a pop.  Students, professors and administrators would file down the hall to find comfort in a bowl of our dean's wild rice & mushroom soup (which was delicious) or savor the perfected minestrone of one of literacy professors (which he sheepishly admitted was one of his best recipes.)

Today, in a southern suburb of Austin, the sky was gray and the air was chilly.  Soup weather has come to Texas.  Wrapping myself in a sweater and boiling a pot for tea sent me back to the days of the soup and sandwich sale in the Intermountain West.  Soup on this week's menu is inevitable.

This White Bean & Kale Stew is a healthy, comforting, vegetarian dish reminiscent of that perfected minestrone soup ladled out during those chilly Idaho afternoons.  It is a great "from the pantry" meal as the recipe calls for ingredients typically found in the everyday kitchen. 

White Bean & Kale Stew
serves 4
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
salt & pepper
1/2 can diced tomatoes
3 1/3 cups vegetable stock
4 oz. small red potatoes, scrubbed & rinsed, diced
1 15 oz. can cannellini, navy or white kidney
beans, drained and rinsed
1 hefty handful torn kale
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add shallots, garlic, carrots, and celery and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium high and add diced tomatoes, with their juice.  Cook, until it begins to caramelize, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock, potatoes, and beans, and bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add kale and cook, covered, until tender, about 2 minutes, then season with salt and pepper if needed.  Garnish with Parmesan.

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