How interesting it is to read over a blog you started over four years ago. How embarrassing to note that your last post was a long, drawn-out announcement that you had returned to the blog, right before it was abandoned nearly three years ago. More shameful still is it to go searching on your computer for the post you wrote when you thought you might take this blogging thing back up, to ask your husband what became of it, and to receive the response, “I think I deleted it…that was more than a year ago!” This does not sound very promising at all, does it? Why am I even sitting here writing this at all, and why are you reading it? I won’t make any conjectures, just like I won’t make any more promises, I’ll just get on with it and tell you about the one thing I would like to make again: Kale, Bean, and Noodle Soup. It’s what we ate for dinner last night. It was easy, healthy, and tasty. I consider it a success if a meal falls into at least one of those categories, and that’s three. That’s pretty good. Oh, it was colorful too; that’s a bonus. It’s food like this that I can’t keep to myself, and that, I suppose, I why I’m here.
But I’m getting into a realm I already covered in the “Welcome Back to the New and Improved Blog!” post I wrote about a year ago and never posted (we did find it after all, languishing away in an old folder in the Dropbox), in which I tell you all about what I envision for this little corner of the internet, and re-introduce myself, and announce the pending arrival of our (now-five-month-old!) baby boy, Titus, among other things. I reluctantly put that post up now, because it seems a pity to waste it, I guess. I’ve already made so many empty promises and set up plenty of sure-to-be-failed expectations, so what’s a few more, right? Go read it for a proper introduction, if you want, but for now, on to the soup!
It’s only fitting that I should again start blogging, something I intended to do ages ago, with a recipe I bookmarked in a magazine ages ago. This recipe is from Fine Cooking, circa December 2009. The particular section of the magazine where I found it says, “Make It Tonight: Just 30 minutes to dinner, start to finish.” I don’t know exactly how long this took me, start to finish. I started around 2pm, and we ate at 5:30 or 6pm. But it should be said that in between that time I also fed a baby; put him down for a nap; prepped the kale, carrots, onions and broke the pasta with a toddler (and had I read the recipe more thoroughly, would have mixed up my Better Than Bouillon chicken broth and rinsed and drained my beans in advance too); changed a couple diapers; fed the baby some more; bundled up the baby, toddler, and myself into coats, mittens, and hats; drove to the grocery store and bought next week’s groceries (in record time); came home and unbundled; did another round of diapers; delegated the carrying in and putting away of the groceries, starting of the soup, and entertaining of the toddler to my amazing husband while I once again fed the baby and put him down for a nap; finished the soup; and cleaned up the cooking mess and set the table while it finished simmering. It seemed like such an achievement to sit down to this wonderful soup after all of that—though most days, I have to be honest, do not go as smoothly as today did, let me assure you. And I know that most of you reading this can actually accomplish much more than I did in four hours’ time. I have never been much good at time management. I would love any tips or recipes you have to share that could help me with that. (That’s an ulterior motive of mine in returning to blogging: to get advice from my more seasoned readers!)
But even if you’re an old pro at accomplishing more than one significant thing during the day and also getting dinner on the table, I hope you try out this recipe. It’s a bit different than anything I’ve tried before, but it’s not as unusual as one would expect with the combination of unordinary ingredients. Kale is a newfound love of ours; if you have not tried it, you should! It looks as if it would have a strong flavor, but it’s not overpowering. It adds a nice hearty substance to this soup, along with the beans, which are a fine source of protein. I think the brand of beans we bought was Mrs. Grimes, which I recommend. They were saltier and had a firmer texture than others I’ve tried in the past, and that equals good, in my opinion at least. They were labeled as “white kidney beans,” which are the same thing as cannellini beans, but that’s not as fun to say. Neither is “angel hair pasta,” but I looked it up, and I’m pretty sure that is the same thing as capellini pasta. The original recipe says you can also try fideo noodles in place of the capellini, but as far as I can tell, that’s just the Spanish word for the same thing. We used whole wheat pasta, which just amplifies the warm, nutty flavor you get from toasting the noodles. The lime juice sounded a bit strange to me, but don’t skip it. It doesn’t stand out at all, and gives the broth just the right amount of brightness to complement the savory broth. And the original recipe called for ¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro added at the end, but I have a big bag of whole coriander seeds I bought at Penzey’s Spices, so I crushed those up instead and added them earlier on, letting them simmer and infuse the soup with their delicious flavor. Coriander seed, if you didn’t know, grows into cilantro, and the flavor is similar, but more subtle. Feel free to use more if you like, or stick with the cilantro. The only other change I made was to use a regular white onion where the original recipe called for a red onion. I assume the red onion is mostly for appearance, but this is one soup that doesn’t need help in the looks department. I didn’t get the greatest picture, but in person, this soup is beautiful. Easy, healthy, tasty, and colorful—this soup has a lot going for it!
Kale, Bean, and Noodle Soup
Adapted from Liz Pearson, Fine Cooking, December 2009/January 2010
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup broken (2- to 3-inch pieces) dried capellini pasta (I used whole wheat angel hair. I took about half a one-pound package, broke small bundles at a time into quarters, and found that to be just about right.)
- 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 small bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves roughly torn into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
- 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 Tbs fresh lime juice (from 1-2 limes); more to taste (they will be easier to juice at room temperature)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- About 1 tsp. whole coriander seed, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just golden brown, about 10 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a medium bowl (I used the same one I used to hold them as I chopped and prepped—actually, I used a dinner plate, which takes up less room in my dishwasher) and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, until dark golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the broth and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any stuck-on pasta. Add the carrots and onions, kale, beans, lime juice, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and ground coriander and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the kale, carrots, and pasta are tender, 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and season to taste with lime juice, salt, and pepper. (Here is where you would add the chopped cilantro if you were using it.) Serve immediately.