It’s officially the new year and for a lot of folks that means eating healthier. Maybe you hit the cheese, cookies, and dips a little hard this holiday season? That’s OK – it happens to all of us. January is the perfect time to get back on track. Admittedly, I love the healthy eating trend. Mostly because I just love vegetables. One of the best ways to incorporate more vegetables into your life is to make soups. The variety of soup recipes available to us is virtually endless. You can stick nearly anything in a soup, let it simmer for awhile, and it will most likely end up delicious. You can experiment with the vegetables you put in there – this Cannellini Bean, Carrot, and Kale Soup was one such experiment. It was a ‘clean out the fridge’ recipe concocted a few winters ago. A lot of people have the misconception that soups are difficult and take a long time to make. I am here to tell you this is not true. Soups are incredibly easy to make and many of them don’t take much time at all! A good chopping knife, a cutting board, and a solid soup kettle is all you need.
Grab your knife and cutting board because the first step is to chop. The base of any good vegetable soup are the aromatics – stuff like garlic, onions, and jalapenos. Mince 6 cloves garlic, 1/2 a small white onion, and a jalapeno pepper. You can keep the seeds in the jalapeno if you’d like some heat in the soup. Feel free to remove them to keep the spice level down. I like a little spice, so I keep half of the seeds and remove the rest of them. The next step is to chop 4-5 carrots. As always, keep the pieces relatively the same size. This will ensure an even cooking time. The last item to chop is 2 cups of kale. Once all the aromatics and veggies are chopped, simply set aside.
Take your soup kettle – I use a cast iron Dutch oven that I’m kind of in love with – and place it on the stove top. Heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp. of your favorite cooking oil. Once heated, add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Saute the aromatics for 5 minutes or so, stirring often. They will begin to caramelize a bit and of course make your house smell fantastic. Now you can add the carrots. Just throw all of them in there along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute the aromatic/carrot mixture for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. You will likely need to add 1/4 cup or so of vegetable stock to deglaze the pan. The carrots should be slightly softened at this point.
Now we’re actually going to turn it into a ‘soup’. Add 3 cups of vegetable stock and 16 oz. crushed tomatoes to the pot. Stir together and then add another generous pinch salt and pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary, and 1 Tbsp. of sugar. It might seem strange to add sugar to a savory soup, but it balances the acid in the tomatoes. Trust me – it totally works. Stir once again and place the cover on the soup pot. Cook the soup on medium heat for 25-30 minutes with the cover on. You want to soup to stay at a light boil. Check the soup and stir every 10 minutes or so. Cooking times may vary a little – you basically want the carrots to become soft and easily pierced with a fork.
We’re coming up on the last steps. Simply add 1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans and those 2 cups of kale you chopped earlier. You just want the greens to wilt a little bit. I find it best to add greens at the very end of the cooking time so they stay nice and hearty. Stir all of these ingredients together and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You can adjust the salt and spice level at this time. Feel free to add a bit more sugar if needed as well.
That’s all there is to it. I told you it was easy! There is nothing like a hearty bowl of vegetable soup with a side of crusty bread on a cold winter night. We live for soups during the winter in Minnesota. I love to grate some fresh Parmesan on top of my soup. It adds just a little bit of richness – and we can’t totally give up cheese just because it’s January, right?
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 small white onion
- 1 Jalapeno - remove seeds if desired
- 4-5 carrots
- 1 15 oz . can cannellini beans
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 3 1/4 cups vegetable stock
- 16 oz . crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp . dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp . dried rosemary
- 1 Tbsp . sugar
- 1 Tbsp . cooking oil
- Generous pinch salt and pepper - to taste
- Mince garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Chop carrots and kale into uniform pieces.
- Heat large soup pan to medium on stove top. Add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil.
- Once heated, add garlic, onions, and jalapeno. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add carrots along with generous pinch salt and pepper. Saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup vegetable stock if necessary.
- Add vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, oregano, rosemary, sugar, and pinch salt and pepper. Stir together and cover.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes on medium heat while covered. Check and stir every 10 minutes or so.
- Carrots should be soft at this point.
- Add cannellini beans and kale. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until kale is wilted.
- Adjust salt, pepper, and sugar levels.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan if desired.