My grandma was the matriarch of bean soups. Paired with buttered bread, bean soup was the pinnacle of comforting food on a cold day. I have a vivid memory of a gray and blustery afternoon when I came inside from playing and found the most delicious bean soup I had ever tasted, made by the matriarch herself. It warmed my bones and filled me up in more ways than one. It’s a sweet memory, and one I treasure more than ever now that my grandma’s gone. One of the yummiest parts of her soup was how colorful it was, with all the different beans and vegetables speckling the pot. Because of that, I made sure to load this soup with vegetables, especially since I only had white beans. This recipe takes ages, but it makes enough to feed about a billion people, unless you’re my husband, in which case it only feeds 1-2 for the week (“not really hungry” = 2 bowls of soup for that fella). I can handle a big batch with a chilly fall and winter stretching before us, plus a newborn constantly squawking for my attention. Freezer meals!
2 lbs dry white beans, rinsed, sorted, and soaked 24 hours
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8 stalks celery, chopped
8 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/4 c soy sauce
Bunch of kale, roughly chopped
Sea salt & pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
In a very large stock pot, heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and a generous pinch of salt and saute until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper (if using) and a pinch of salt, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. Crank heat to high. Add carrots and celery and a teaspoon of salt; toss to coat veggies with onion and garlic and cook until vegetables start to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and another pinch of salt and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Toss soaked beans in with vegetables and add 4 quarts hot or boiling water. Add soy sauce and 1/2 tsp pepper and taste; adjust seasoning if necessary. Bring to a boil and lower temperature to medium, simmering 1-1 1/2 hours or until beans are soft. Stir in kale and simmer until slightly tender. Turn off heat. Serve hot.