I seem to be catching every cold that comes my way this fall so far, so I was really in need of a soothing and immunity boosting lunch today. I decided to make a new spin on an old favorite soup my mother makes so well – white bean and escarole soup. My mother makes it so amazing but her recipe uses parmesan cheese and chicken broth which I am staying away from these days. Unfortunately I did not have cannellini beans or escarole so I took a leap of faith and crafted a new recipe using chick peas and kale.
I love coming up with different ways to get my greens, and kale is so so SO good for you. Kale is a nutrition packed powerhouse, and is very easy on your wallet. It took me a long time to make friends with kale, but now that I have – I simply could not live without it. Kale is great in a soup because it can really hold up to sitting int he liquid without getting too mushy.
One challenge in cooking without dairy or meat is developing depth of flavor. In order to get that rich broth that I love I did a low and slow saute’ of mild elephant garlic and olive oil. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to your soup pot and set the heat to medium and wait for the oil to shimmer. Once the oil is heated add 1 chopped clove of elephant garlic (about 1/4 cup).
Elephant garlic is milder in flavor than regular garlic and by slowly cooking it in the olive oil you are able to pull out all of the flavor of the garlic into the oil while you mellow out the sharpness of the garlic. As you build the soup on top of this base you end up with a craveable rich deep veggie broth.
Next add one chopped onion and saute until the onion turns translucent. Then add the two cans of rinsed chick peas, salt and fresh cracked pepper and cook about 5 minutes more so that you really infuse those chick peas with the flavors in the oil.
Add 6 cups of vegetable broth or water and 1.5 tbsp Better than Bullion Vegetable Stock Base (my personal favorite). Add chopped kale and simmer until the kale has wilted and flavors have melded, about 5 more minutes. Serve with crusty bread for a hearty lunch or dinner, or a warm bowl for breakfast!