Sunday, November 7, 2010

Greens and Beans Soup

Alex’s dad, Fred, is famous in the family for his soups. (He is also famous for a continuing journey known as Gummy-Bear Pie, but I’m not going to get into that because in his own words, “The first one was like eating a tire.”) Fred serves a soup to start almost every meal we have at his house; most of the time it’s the crowd-pleasing lentil soup with triangular chunks of bright orange carrots and salty turkey sausage. Sometimes it’s a new creation, like last week’s butternut squash and ginger soup. His best experimental soup—which has become a staple in the rotation—was brought to being when Alex’s vegetarian cousin came for dinner and he couldn’t use the old lentil standby. He calls it “Greens and Beans Soup” and not only is it delicious, it is crazy easy. Crazy like Steve Buscemi looks and easy like your mom. Boom—roasted!

I whipped up a batch last night, subbing out broccoli rabe (which I didn’t see at the farmers’ market) for kale (which I did). Fred’s recipe (displayed at the end of this post in its original) calls for three main steps: Add the onions. Add the greens. Add the beans.

Both the greens and the beans give this soup a great texture: softness from the cannellini and chew from the kale. The broth, which is naturally thickened by the beans, is minimal (a plus for me), so if you like a soupier soup, I’d recommend adding more liquid (water or stock). The best part (for the cheese eaters in the crowd) is the freshly grated parmesan that melts over the hot soup, a sharp burst of flavor blanketing the bowl like a winter’s first snowfall.

If you’re like me, and you can’t just eat soup, serve with toast (rubbed while hot with a fresh garlic clove for kick). The crispy bread will sop up the soup juice nicely and its crunch in your head will help drown out whatever it is your company is telling you about petroleum or mixed martial arts so you can focus on how super your dinner is.


1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch broccolini (aka broccoli rabe). Chop up, stems and all.
1 large onion, diced
2 cans cannellini (white kidney beans)
2 cups water
1 vegetable stock cube (or chicken stock cube)
Salt (and black pepper?)
Grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in soup pot; add diced onion and let simmer until translucent. Add chopped broccolini and cook until it begins to wilt. Add water and stock cube. Add beans, including liquid from cans. Stir and let simmer about 20 minutes or more. Before serving, add salt (and pepper) to taste.

Serve in open soup plates with a generous spoonful of parmesan on top.


  1. I always see kale in the greenmarket and never know what to do with it. Now I do!

    Shaved parm as winter's fist snowfall – way to be literary. :)

  2. This looks great! I want to adapt and try it.

    P.S. Those kale chips you made last night before I left? AMAZING. I had the aftertaste for like an hour after and wished I had more!