I’m here to tell you about a casserole. But before I do, let me just say that there are a bunch of recipes out there for white bean and kale soup. Just do an internet search and you’ll come up with a ton of ‘em. I’ve cooked at least two such soups in the past couple weeks, experimenting with different herb combinations. Let me just say I’m still working on it.
For the most recent one, I absentmindely used a tablespoon of sage that was way past its prime, garnering the following response from my husband, as he held the steaming bowl up to his nose on his way to the table: “Mmm, musty.” He said it with the same intonation as he might have said, “Mmm, tasty.” Musty wasn’t the response I was going for. We ate the soup as it tasted fine, but I tossed the rest of that sage later that evening.
Since I hadn’t had much luck with white bean and kale soup, I was intrigued when I recently saw a recipe for Slow-Baked Beans with Kale by Martha Rose Shulman in the New York Times. The slow-baked part wasn’t going to work for me because I didn’t want to wait 3 1/2 hours for dinner to be ready. That recipe starts with dry beans, and they slow bake in the oven. I’m sure it’s absolutely amazing, and I’m going to try it some time. Really, I am! In the meantime, I thought I’d adapt the recipe and use pre-cooked beans.
And, we have a winner! I’ve tried the technique below (variations on it, anyway) twice – once with navy beans I had pre-cooked, and once with canned cannellini beans. The version with the navy beans that I had cooked was slightly better, but the one with canned beans wasn’t far off. I think you’ll be happy either way. Make this meal today and show yourself or your special someone a little love!
Adapted from the aforementioned recipe by Martha Rose Shulman
Time: about 1 hour
This is a great opportunity to use one of those cast iron oven-and-stovetop-safe casseroles – sometimes referred to as a Dutch oven – if you have one. If you’re like me and you don’t have one, you can just start with a regular pot and transfer the contents to a casserole dish before it goes in the oven. The amounts below are pretty flexible so feel free to use your artistic license. I don’t have to tell you to wash the kale well, do I?
3 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped small
1 celery rib, chopped
2 T minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
6 T tomato paste, dissolved in 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth, water, bean cooking liquid, or a combination
2-3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 t herbes de Provence
1 bunch kale, chopped (about 3 cups)
4 1/2 c white beans, such as navy or cannellini, cooked and drained (if using canned beans, about 3 cans)
1 t salt
Freshly ground pepper – a generous amount
1 c whole wheat bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in an oven-and-stovetop-safe casserole or, if you don’t have one, a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery, and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
2. Add the tomato paste solution, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and herbes de Provence and bring to a simmer. (If you want, you can pre-warm the tomato paste solution in a little pot while the onion mixture is cooking so it comes to a simmer faster.)
3. Add the kale, stir, and let the kale cook down for a few minutes. Then add the beans, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer again.
4. Turn off the heat. If you’re not using an oven-safe dish, very carefully transfer the mixture to a casserole dish (I used a 2 1/2 quart dish). In a separate bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the casserole and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.
© 2011 BistroKatie.com
While the casserole is baking, you can prepare whatever you like to have on the side. Pasta or rice would go well. I prepared some Israeli couscous tossed with a little parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.
A warm, hearty casserole, packed with veggies and as satisfying as any I could imagine. I love it!