Kale: Stick a Superfood in Your Soup

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On the comfort food end of things, it's all about mac 'n cheese and bread pudding these days. Wanting to balance your diet, maybe counter-act those Christmas cookies you ate over the weekend? Here's a trendy veggie: kale.

If you're looking for an easy way to add nutrition to your diet, this is the stuff for you. Rightfully called a superfood, one cup of this leafy green is packed with 5 grams of fiber plus tons of vitamin B, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. But that's not all - how about some antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, beta carotene, and phosphorus too? With kale, you can pretty much forget your daily vitamin pill.

Find out what we did with our kale after the jump.

This superfood is commonly served in salads, as chips, or simply sautéed, but with the weather getting cold and even rainy, it's the perfect time of year to make Kale Soup. As compared to most other greens, kale has a lot of substance, so it's very crunchy when raw and doesn't break down easily when cooked. This means that it won't get overly soggy and slimy in a soup. Kale has an earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness that pairs well with a lot of other foods, providing for a lot of flexibility when making any dish with it.

We tried out a simple recipe that can be adjusted in an unlimited number of ways. The soup is pretty good on its own, but many will find it a little plain. Spice it up easily with pepper (white pepper if you have it handy) and a dash of cayenne. Or, go Mediterranean with chickpeas, ginger, and saffron. If you can't go a meal without meat, throw in some pancetta or sausage. I actually added a drop of honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon, which is incredibly delicious and is fitting for the autumn season.

This recipe is based on one offered by Whole Foods for Kale and White Bean Soup. However, their directions left the vegetables crunchy. This kept the kale crispy and fresh, but like me, most soup eaters will probably sacrifice the overall presentation to ensure that the carrots, onions, and especially the potatoes are soft. Soup is easy and should be adjusted to taste, so exact measurements aren't included here.

Start by heating olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion, cooking until nearly translucent. Then add chopped garlic cloves (a little or a lot to taste) and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, or until you smell the garlic aroma wafting from the pan. Add a box (32 oz.) of low-sodium vegetable broth, some peeled and sliced carrots, and a can of diced tomatoes. Here, you could also add chopped celery, diced potatoes, or other vegetables of your choice. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the kale is tender. Then, add a can of white beans, black beans, or garbanzo beans depending on the flavor you're after. I also threw in Parmesan rind, which I highly suggest. Season with a little pepper, and let cook uncovered for 30-60 minutes.

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