Kale and White Bean Soup with Rosemary Oil Recipe


Eating from the Ground Up Recipes for Simple, Perfect VegetablesPanfried BrusselsThere is a bakery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called Sage Bakehouse that I used to go to when I was in school. It was all concrete cavernous and always warm from the ovens. The primary draw was their bread, and they made generous round loaves of sourdough with a soft crust that sliced well. I’d go there to study and order a toast basket: three kinds of toast with a ramekin of strawberry jam. For lunch, there were always great soups. One day when I was there, alone before an afternoon class, I had the white bean soup with garlic and rosemary. I finished my bowl, mopped up the creamy white broth with my bread, walked to the counter, and pleaded for the recipe. The lovely woman with her hair tied back in a kerchief didn’t even pause. She recited this recipe from memory.

This became the first soup that took me beyond my mother’s soup repertoire. It was a soup that I made for dinner, and then people asked me for the recipe. It also was the recipe that made me feel like I might be able to cook. Over the years there have been endless variations. There could be half a can of crushed tomatoes or a few garlic sausages, cut into little slices. And instead of rosemary, there could always be fresh chopped sage. That being said, the basic recipe is good enough to stick with. I’ll leave it to you, and you can do with it what you wish.

  • Yield: 3 Quarts


  • 1 pound dried cannellini or navy beans, picked over for stones, soaked in water for 6 to 8 hours, drained
  • 7 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 inch piece of Parmesan rind, roughly chopped
  • 5 4- to 6-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1 bunch curly kale (about 8 ounces), stems removed, leaves chopped into fine ribbons
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • For serving: Grated lemon zest
How to Make It
  1. Put the beans in a large, heavy-bottomed pot along with the garlic, Parmesan rind, 3 of the rosemary sprigs, and the bay leaf. Add the stock and water. Cover, set the pot over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 2 to 2½ hours.
  2. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary stems. (The rosemary leaves will be in the soup that’s okay.) Mash some of the beans and garlic with a potato masher or large wooden spoon. Add the kale and salt. If the soup is too thick, add up to 1 cup of water. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring the soup to a low boil, and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender and melts into the soup, 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed, and lots of pepper to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 rosemary sprigs to the oil, pressing to submerge them. After a moment, the rosemary will sizzle and the smell of rosemary will fill your kitchen. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes to infuse the oil.
  4. Serve in large soup bowls, with a drizzle of rosemary olive oil and a grating of lemon zest over each bowl.

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