When its cold outside there is nothing I love more than a big bowl of chili or stew or soup. Something that warms me from the inside out, and sticks to my ribs, causing me to lean back in my chair and rub my belly with satisfaction.
Sadly (or awesomely) it was in the 80’s here in Southern California on New Year’s Day and just cooled down again. Winter in California is SO not like my winters in Brooklyn. Not that I am complaining, because I do not miss the feeling of my contact lenses freezing in my eyes from the cold weather! Or my nose being so cold I could not tell if it was running or not. Yeah, good times, good times. . .
Now that is a little cooler here, I made a rib sticking, hearty vegetable stew with white beans and one of my favorite vegetables, Tuscan kale. To really give it some smoky flavor I used the skin from my homemade bacon. If you want to make it vegetarian or vegan, do not use any bacon or smoked meats, and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It will still be fantastic, just without the smoky layer.
I love the flavor of Tuscan kale, also known as black kale, dinosaur kale and lacinato kale. You can easily use other types of kale, or even fresh spinach, collard or mustard greens.
I make sure to coat the beans in the flavored oil before adding the broth, to insure that the flavors soak into the beans as they cook.
Once you add the broth and water you can walk away, returning for an occasional stir and to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot. Depending on how old your beans are, they may suck up more liquid than you expect, so add more water if needed.
When the beans are almost done, stir in the chopped kale. Cook until the kale is as tender as you like it. Some people like raw kale, but I am not among them! I like it to be nice and tender, but not mushy and squishy.
Enjoy it with some crusty bread to soak up all that good juice! I also recommend a nice bottle of pinot grigio.
- 4 ounces bacon skin (or substitute with a smoked ham hock or turkey wing)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 cups small white beans, soaked
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large spring fresh rosemary
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
Add the garlic to the pot, cook an additional 2 minutes, until just fragrant.
Add the beans and stir to coat them well with the onion and garlic mixture.
Add the herbs, broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the beans for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are almost tender.
Stir in the kale and continue to simmer the beans until the kale is wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Season the stew with the salt, adjusting as needed for the saltiness of the bacon or smoked meat. Serve the stew with crusty bread to soak up the juices.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 2 hour Total time: 2 hour 10 mins Yield: 6 cups