Monday, January 26, 2009

Kale and White Bean Soup (and Storytime!)

Last week, I got an email from my sisters friend Kelly. She gave me a recipe for a soup that she had and loved, and thought I might like it too!
As soon as I scanned the ingredient list, I knew it was perfect for JJ and I. I love vegetarian meals, and especially soups with the whole garden in it, and this was one of them. JJ's not crazy about vegetarian meals, however white beans are his favorite, so he was happy! I love fennel seeds, and I only ever use them when making sausage and tomato sauce, so it was nice to have another place to use one of my favorite flavors.
As for the saffron, it's quite pricey. I found some at Trader Joes last time I was there, it was the cheapest I've ever seen, about $7 for a little glass bottle. However when I opened it, there were maybe 20 strands, so I've been very guarded with using it!

I asked Kristine, my sister, if Kelly sent her the recipe too, and she said yeah, but she thought it sounded gross because it was made with Guinea pig food (aka kale), which is where story time starts...

When I was in 5th grade, we had a class pet. A black guinea pig named Norman. I loved to sign up to bring him home over the weekends, and eventually talked my mom into letting me get my very own guinea pig. I talked her into letting me get 2, both girls named Lucy and Josephene. After about 2 weeks, Josie started to get bigger and more pear shaped. Eventually, the balls on the sides started rolling around. She was pregnant!
So she had two babies, a boy I named Stewart, and a girl I named Lila. Since Lila was albino, we were told she wouldn't live too long, so my mom let me keep Lila, and I had three pigs.
My mom told me when I got the pigs that she wanted me to really take care of them, and one thing I read was pigs should eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. My pigs absolutely loved Kale. It was by far their favorite food! Whenever anyone would open the fridge door and slide out the vegetable drawer, the pigs would start 'meeping' like crazy, and earned the nickname "the meepers".
I think the abundance of kale and oranges in their life is the reason they lived to be as old as they did. Even Lila, nicknamed el diablo by my sisters, who was supposed to only live to be maybe two, was a little over 5 when she died!
To any parents out there who have children asking for hamsters, gerbils, mice, bunnies, or pigs, I highly recommend guinea pigs. They're so sweet, so cute, and very gentle. They do take some time to warm up to you, they can be skiddish when you get them at the pet store, but every guinea pig I've ever had has been a sweetheart!

Lucy (black), Josephene (large orange - mom), Lila (albino) and Stewart (little orange - looked like a hamster when he was a baby!)
And when they were babies, they started eating regular pig food right away, this photo is of them 2 days old!

So anyway, when I was at kroger picking up kale (it was always 50 cents a bunch back then!) I couldn't help but remember my three little pigs :)

Now, on to the recipe... thanks so much, Kelly! I absolutely loved it!

Kale and White Bean Soupwith Sundried Tomatoes and Saffron
(from Farmer John's Cookbook)

3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 cups leeks
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped (doubled)
1 small parsnip, chopped (omitted)
1 1/2 cups peeled chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
6-7 large kale leaves, stems removed (3-4 cups)
3/4 cups cooked or canned (rinsed, drained) white beans
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
pinch saffron
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and fennel seeds, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add potato, carrot and parsnip and cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
2. Add fresh or canned tomatoes. Pour in stock. Stir in bay leaves and oregano. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce heat so it continues to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the kale, beans and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer until veggies are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat; add safron, stir.
- I topped my soup with grated parmesan and served it with a chunk of ciabatta bread.


Joelen said...

Looks like a great soup and a cute story!

Melissa said...

I had guinea pigs too! After about three years or so, I gave mine to a little girl, and now ten years later one of them (Alf after the TV alien) is still alive and well. Those lil critters can live a long time! :-)

That Girl said...

You're lucky that guinea pigs have such small litters! My guinea pig never had babies, but when I was in 4th or 5th grade we got 2 pet rats....who both ended up being pregnant. Rats have litters of 6-7......At one point we had 14 rats!

nabila said...
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Amie said...

PIggies! I love how you commented on the squeaking! Whenever my two piggies hear rustling, they think its their food time and wheeeek wheeek like crazy!
And, that, plus the recipe amkes this my favorite post :)
I'm excited to make the soup!

Maris said...

Cute story! And a delicious recipe!