I'm not the soup-maker my sister is, but every once in a while I like to make a big batch of soup and portion it out for freezing...what's left anyway, after enjoying it for a couple days. I'm thinking healthy is where I want to be right now after all the rich food since Thanksgiving and this soup fits the bill perfectly.
Luisa at The Wednesday Chef posted this a few years back and I copied it. I forgot all about it until I read something recently about cranberry beans. So I dug it out, ordered some cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo and made it for my daughter on a cold Florida day. First, I discovered cranberry beans taste marvelous all by themselves. (Testing them for doneness was a treat.) Then, knowing kale is one of Tracy's favorite veggies made it a perfect match and I had both leeks and orecchiette pasta in the house.
Luisa suggests cooking a fresh portion of pasta each time you serve the soup but I didn't and I froze some portions as well. She's right of course, and it makes for a better soup, but it's rather time consuming when you're in a hurry.
You'll see after reading the recipe there is a divine spiced bean purée to dollop on top and then mix into the soup. Wow. The flavors! This puree MAKES the soup. The first photo shows the bean puree before mixing it in. I think it makes a nice presentation; then you can serve the Parmesan on the side. The last photo was taken after we mixed in the purée.
You're going to love this one!
Cranberry Bean, Lacinato Kale and Pasta Soup
From The Wednesday Chef
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 1/2 tablespoons, divided
2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and sliced, about 2 cups
2 medium carrots, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1 onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
3 cups dried cranberry beans or Good Mother Stallards, if you're lucky enough to have some hanging around the house
2 bunches lacinato kale, cleaned, stemmed and coarsely chopped, about 10 cups
3 cups dried orecchiette pasta (about 9 ounces)
1 tablespoon fresh minced sage
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
In a 4-quart soup pot or cast iron casserole (with a lid that fits), heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and cook the leeks, carrots and onions over medium-low heat until just softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the dried beans and 12 cups of water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid, stirring occasionally.
After about 45 minutes, add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Continue to cook, covered, and again stirring occasionally, just until the beans are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour or more (this may vary according to the beans you use).
With a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of the beans and, separately, 2 tablespoons of bean liquor and set both aside. Add the kale to the soup, stirring in a few cups at a time as the greens wilt. Cover, and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes more until the greens are tender, then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve.
In a food processor, combine the reserved beans and bean liquor, sage, parsley, paprikas and lemon juice, the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, then check for seasoning, adding more salt if desired, or bean liquor to aid in blending.
Just before serving, stir the cooked pasta into the soup.