This yummy soup brings back fond memories of spending Christmas with my sister, Tomi and her family in Washington DC. We had an unseasonably warm Christmas one year. All the kids and parents went to the park and played flag football and then came home to a warm bowl of Tomi’s minstra. Recently, my daughter, Dani texted me while studying abroad in New Zealand, to request “Auntie Tomi’s delicious bean soup”. This recipe is a favorite that’s easy enough for a college student to prepare and nutritious too.
Bean and Kale Minestra
Serves 6 to 8
½ pound kale (about 4 cups, chopped—we used lacinato)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
olive oil to coat the bottom of your soup pot
6 cups cooked (2 cups dry) cannellini (white kidney beans—we used navy beans)
4 to 5 cups bean water, vegetable or chicken stock or water
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
6 fresh sage leaves (½ tsp if dry)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper
½ cup finely ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Remove stems from kale and coarsely chop the leaves. Soak the leaves in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the soup.
In the soup pot, saute the garlic in olive oil for just half a minute. Add about half of the cooked beans and part of the water or stock to the pot. Puree the rest of the beans and stock in a blender of food processor along with the tomato paste and sage. Stir the pureed beans into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the kale. Mix it into the soup and simmer for at least half and hour, until tender.
Mix the cornmeal with the lemon juice and enough water to make one cup. Pour this paste slowly into the simmering soup while stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
Simmer the soup for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings.
Serve, topped with freshly grated Parmesan.
Note: The cornmeal paste serves as a thickener. If you prefer a brothier soup, skip the cornmeal and just add the fresh lemon juice.