WHITE BEAN AND KALE SOUP
To kick off the start of winter, a hearty & creamy white bean and kale soup will always have my heart. It’s so comforting in all the right ways. Preparing this spin on a French classic ‘garbure’ with a warm skillet cornbread or some toasted peasant bread and melted gruyere cheese can be just the cure for a blustering day. Traditionally a ham hock is thrown in to add some good smokey depth but I prefer smoked turkey. Any cut you find will work. It's smoother and less gelatinous. Usually you can find it at your grocer right next to the smoked ham hock. After the rich smokey flavors are extracted from the turkey during the braise, I like to flake the bits of meat into each bowl at the end and spoon over some thyme oil. I had some king oyster mushrooms and a few cups of cooked farro lying around and topped them in the soup to make it a hearty rounded meal. I puree about three quarters of the soup but feel free to puree the whole thing or just a little at a time and see how you like the creaminess. Try it with a good bright and juicy Beaujolais wine, it’s acidity is a good fit for the heartiness of the soup.
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 -14oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bouquet garni tied with fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs
1-2 lbs hunks of smoked turkey (leg or neck)
4 stalks kale, stems removed and leaves bunched and sliced
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Heat ¼ cup oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic, celery, carrot, and onion and cook until light brown, about 10 minutes. Add beans, stock, bouquet garni, and turkey and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium, simmer, cover slightly, and cook for 1 ½ hours. Remove lid, discard bouquet garni and transfer turkey to a plate to let cool. Once the fat rises to the top, skim the fat and discard. Now, working in batches, transfer roughly half to ¾ of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add puree to the chunky half, turn up heat to high, stir in kale leaves and lightly simmer another 5 minutes or until kale turns bright green and wilted. Ladle into bowls and serve. I top mine with thyme oil.
*To make thyme oil, remove leaves from 3-4 fresh thyme springs and bash them up in a pestle and mortar (or a mix in a blender) with a few dashes of salt and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.