With kids back in school, and cool days becoming more common, simple soups and slow cooker recipes are our favorite weeknight dinners. We have an abundance of late-season greens, too, like collards, chard and kale, and I’m always trying to find ways to work them into meals. It’s hard to beat the nutrition in greens. One serving of kale, for example, has 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and it’s loaded with vitamins A and C, plus iron and calcium. My younger daughter doesn’t drink much milk, so I use greens as another way to get her more calcium – one cup of raw, chopped kale cooks down to about ¼ cup, and gives her 9% of her daily calcium needs. Greens can be tricky to prepare – especially in a way kids will like – but I always have success serving them greens in soup. Tomato, Bean & Kale Soup is a great recipe that brings out the rich flavor of kale, but balances it well with tomatoes and plenty of garlic.
It’s a fast weeknight dinner, too. With some whole grain bread and butter or cheese, it makes a satisfying meal.
Begin by chopping the kale. I used curly kale (shown below), but lacinato kale (also known as dino kale) is another great choice for this soup. Lacinato kale is darker, thinner and less curly.
You will want to remove the stalk and stem, as they cook up bitter. Just hold the stem firmly in one hand, grab the base of the leaves with your other hand, and pull along the stalk to remove the leafy parts of the kale.
Our bunnies, Carmen and Mr. Molly, also love when I use greens in soup. Kale stalks are some of their favorite foods!
Back to the kitchen … Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Smaller is better if you have kids, as large pieces tend to be too chewy for them. To clean the greens, I toss the pieces into an extra large bowl of water. You could also use your sink.
When the kale pieces are in the bowl of water, swish them around vigorously to remove all the dirt that can be trapped in the curly parts of the leaves.
The dirt will collect at the bottom of the bowl, and the clean kale will be floating on the top.
Lift the kale out, draining the water off, and measure out a generous 4 cups. I had about 2 cups of extra pieces, so I put them into the fridge in a plastic bag with a couple paper towels to absorb any extra moisture. They’re already cleaned and ready to drop into another soup, or sauté with garlic and serve with eggs for breakfast!
Next, chop the garlic. I like to trim off the rough end of the clove …
… and then crush it with the broad side of a knife.
The skin slips right off!
Chop the garlic finely, and make sure you have at least 2 teaspoons – the garlic in this soup makes an amazingly tasty broth. Of course I’m a bit of a garlic fanatic, so follow your own preferences. When the garlic is chopped, heat the pan and get the butter sizzling.
Now, add the garlic. The air will be filled with the wonderful fragrance of Soup Season!
Next, add the pepper and herbs, rubbing the Italian seasoning between your fingers to enhance their flavors.
After about a minute, add the kale. If the garlic starts to get brown, add the kale sooner so the garlic doesn’t burn. (A few tablespoons of water collected in the bottom of my measuring cup of kale pieces– I suggest pouring off any excess liquid before you add the kale.)
It looks like a lot of kale, but you’ll be surprised what it looks like after stirring and cooking for 2-3 minutes!
You can already smell how delicious this soup will be! Add the remaining ingredients – diced tomatoes, broth, vegetable juice and black-eyed peas.
Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then cook for a final 2 minutes. Give the soup a taste and add salt to taste if needed—it depends a lot on whether the beans, diced tomatoes, veggie juice and broth were already salted.
Dinner is done and ready to serve!
Enjoy your soup with some bread or toast, buttered and/or topped with cheese slices. (Adding cheese would boost the calcium even more!)
Simple and satisfying, it’s hard to beat a meal that is so nutritious and delicious, too! Not to mention beautiful …
Try this Tomato, Bean & Kale Soup for dinner this month and eat your greens! If you do, leave a comment on this blog and share your experience. If you’ve had trouble cooking greens and liking them, I’d love to know if this method passed your taste test.
Check back in a few days when Emily will share a great way to use your summer vegetables.
Liz is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.