A Spring Beauty of a Soup: Hearty Tuscan Soup

9 May

I love most things Italian, the cuisine in particular. I spotted this quick, main dish soup recipe in the April 2013 issue of Chatelaine magazine. Hearty Tuscan Soup struck me as light enough in flavour for a late spring, warm weather supper. The other reason that made me take note was its use of kale.

Hearty Tuscan Soup

Hearty Tuscan Soup

“Kale, Kale, Kale!” In the world of nutrition, kale has developed a mythic reputation {see extract from WebMD.com below}. But a lot like “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” of the Brady Bunch television program, kale remained, at least in my mind, slightly distasteful and difficult to stomach. Yet, I keep searching for recipes that will make this crazy vegetable palatable. Hearty Tuscan Soup hit the mark for me. Hope you will like it, too.

Kale: Nutritional Superstar Vegetable. Dark green, ruffled leaves.

Kale: Nutritional Superstar Vegetable. Dark green, ruffled leaves.

Kale is a dark green, thick-leafed vegetable characterized by its ruffled edges. Thoroughly rinse the leaves to release all the grit that can cling to the frilly bits. Pull the leaves from the tougher stems and then chop according to your recipe’s directions.

The soup was ready to eat in a mere 30 minutes. I made the full 4 servings because I had room in the freezer to tuck away two servings for future enjoyment or when I’m sick. Chatelaine’s recipe called for croutons to garnish the soup just before serving. I’m not a huge fan of croutons in soup or salad, so I substituted pasta and increased the liquid called for in the soup to balance what the noodles would absorb.

Chopped Kale, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, navy beans, onions, garlic, small pasta

Chopped Kale, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, navy beans, onions, garlic, small pasta

For the original recipe and its instructions, follow the Chatelaine link above. My version follows:

HEARTY TUSCAN SOUP                                                Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp/15 mL            Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1                                   onion, chopped
  • 2                                   garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups/750 mL          low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup/250 mL            water
  • 1 – 540 mL can          navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 400 mL can          diced tomatoes and their juice (I used Aylmer’s Fire Roasted tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL            dried basil*
  • 1 cup/250 mL             small-size pasta, like Ditali (small tubes) or tiny shells
  • 2 cups/500 mL           packed, chopped kale
  • 1 – 2 cups/250 – 500 mL  more water
  • To taste                         pepper (and salt)
  • 1/2 cup/125 mL           grated Parmesan cheese
  • [* or 1/2 cup/125 mL   chopped fresh basil, in place of the dried basil]

Directions:

1.     Heat a large pot (or small Dutch oven) over medium. Add the oil, then the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes until onions soften, stirring occasionally.

2.    Add broth, 1 cup of water, beans and dried basil to the pot. Stir well to combine and bring the contents to a boil. Reduce the heat to Medium-Low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Soften chopped onions and minced garlic in EVOO. Add broth and diced tomatoes

Soften chopped onions and minced garlic in EVOO. Add broth, basil, water and diced tomatoes

3.     Stir in the pasta and allow it to simmer, uncovered for five minutes.

Add pasta, if using. Simmer another 5 minutes.

Add pasta, if using. Simmer another 5 minutes.

4.     Stir in the kale and more water, up to 2 cups. When the soup returns to a simmer, allow to cook for 5 more minutes until the kale is tender, but not completely limp.

Add and stir in chopped kale leaves. Add more water if necessary.

Add and stir in chopped kale leaves. Add more water if necessary.

5.     Top bowls of steaming soup with chopped basil (if using instead of dried basil) and grated Parmesan cheese.

Light and nutritioning soup for a late spring day.

Light and nutritious soup for a late spring day.

You may be tempted to add a salad or a sandwich to this savvy supper, but I found the high fibre of the kale and the beans, the iron and the protein of the soup were plenty filling. A medium-bodied juicy wine — Tuscan or Italian, of course — is a great match with this meal.

Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and a juicy Italian red.

Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and a juicy Italian red.

From http://www.webmd.com, an overview of the greatness of kale:

“Kale is a Nutritional Powerhouse

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.”

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2 Responses to “A Spring Beauty of a Soup: Hearty Tuscan Soup”

  1. Debby Simpson May 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Wow. This looks really good. I will have to try it soon.

    • Susan at Savvy Single Suppers May 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      I think this is one of those soups (because of the Kale) that would reheat best in a saucepan over medium heat rather than in the microwave. It was still tasty, but the kale was very sad looking when it came out of the micro.

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