Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kale and White Beans Soup

I am compulsive browser. I browse while I am in the middle of doing work. Sitting in front of the computer the whole day I am convinced that my brain needs some relaxation every now and then and that is where browsing comes in.

The one I landed up on yesterday was this - Is America Ready for Healthy Convenience Food? and after reading my reaction was "Ooh Boy!". Who knew cooking can be fraught with so much pressure, burden and weight especially on the women's shoulders? Morality and Cooking, that was one angle I never did think about really. Does clinging to perfectionist attitude from the middle of last century the reason why most people are abandoning cooking? Seriously if there is so much pressure why would anybody even try. All these writers who rationalize about why people do what they do should just stop.

Unbeknownst to me I started analyzing my motivations for cooking. I cannot stand store bought/restaurant food for more than a day. I detest stealth ingredients like sugar, salt and unpronounceable additives in the food I eat. I rather add the sugar than me eating a cup of yogurt and end up consuming more sugar than I would have if I was eating ice cream. I loathe giving so much power to food manufacturers whose main goal is profits and not my health. So I spend time now than to spend my time and money at a hospital later on.

Good food does not necessarily mean eating salads. Taste buds which are used to eating certain foods cooked a certain way will crave for them and that is motivation enough for cooking at home. This taste cannot be matched by any restaurant leave alone a prepackaged frozen dinner. So in the end my analysis the biggest inheritance anyone can give their children is to give them a food culture that will provide enough incentive to cook and create foods known to them at home. And along the way they will pick up other foods and tastes that expands their food culture.

Going by that my food culture does not include soups. Occasionally an aatu kaal soup (goat meat bones soup) or a chicken soup - very different from the multitude of soups that people whip up here. Obviously I am talking about 20 years ago. Food cultures evolve which is evident by the fact that my mom today makes a variety of different soups. Talking about my mom, she cleaned, chopped and froze the extra kale that we had in the beginning of Fall which is coming very handy now. I had some soaked refrigerated white navy beans, white peas and some left white chick peas in the fridge so was born this Kale - White Bean soup.

Heat oil and saute the onions, garlic and ginger followed by the tomatoes. Add in the chopped kale leaves.
Add in the chicken stock and let it come to a boil. Add the cooked beans.
Add the noodles if using and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Kale White Bean Soup
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:30-40 minutes
  1. 2 cups of cleaned and chopped tightly packed Kale leaves
  2. 2 cups of dried navy beans (I used a combination of navy, white peas and chick peas) soaked overnight
  3. 1/2 cup of chopped onions
  4. 3-4 garlic cloves mashed and chopped
  5. 2 tsp of grated ginger
  6. 2 tbsp of red pepper and garlic sauce or any chili sauce or 2 tbsp of chopped jalapeno or any mild tasting pepper
  7. 2 tsp of chili powder
  8. 1 tsp of cumin powder
  9. 1 juicy tomato chopped
  10. 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  11. l/2 tbsp of olive oil (or more if the chili sauce being used does not have much oil)
  12. a handful of dried rice noodles (optional)
  13. salt to taste
  1. Cook the beans till they are soft but not mushy and set aside.
  2. In a dutch oven or a thick bottomed wide mouthed pan heat the oil, add the onions and garlic and saute till it starts to turn brown.
  3. Add the chili garlic sauce if using or add the chopped peppers and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add in the chopped tomatoes and saute till it becomes mushy.
  5. Add the cumin and red chili powder, give a good mix.
  6. Add the chopped and saute till it wilts about 4-5 minutes.

  7. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

  8. Add the cooked beans and simmer for about 10 minutes.

  9. Add in the rice noodles if using and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add salt.

  10. Cook further if you want to make it thick else leave some of the stock in the soup.

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  1. Couldn't agree more about passing on food culture to future generations Indo. Cooking regularly at home not only leads to good health but also brings the whole family together. Lot of positives and although we do eat out every once in a while, I too hate the idea of eating from take out boxes on a regular basis.

  2. Lovely idea to use up Kale leaves in soup as otherwise my family finds them little bitter & tough to chew in porial or salad.
    Just one query, how to freeze up the extra kale or for that matter any greens. I find methi leaves, spinach etc. go black soon or sometimes even become brown/soggy in the box I store them in.
    Could you please share the correct method [ box / ziploc or foil ] and steps to follow while storing fresh greens ?


    1. Geetu, now that I grow kale leaves I can tell with certainty that the young leaves are tender and are very suitable for poriyal but most leaves you find in grocery stores are very mature leaves that are chewy. So yes soup or making kale chips will work good.

      As for freezing, wash the greens and cut them like you normally would for any recipe and then freeze them. Defrosting and then cutting them is probably not a good idea so pre-cut and then freeze. Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice and add a little bit of salt give a mix and then store for retaining the color. I have not tried it personally but a friend mentioned that the salt and lemon help to retain color. The kale leaves were fine without them too.

      Most grocery stores sprinkle water on greens, so when you bring them home air dry or pat dry the moisture out of the greens and store them between 2 sheets of paper towel. This should keep them fresh for a week at least.

      Hope this helps.


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