Tomato and White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
So, how is everyone doing? I feel like the world has just been turned upside down, and like many of you, I’m holding tight to whatever I can grasp on to: the close relationships I have with my fella and my mom; working on my cookbook (it’s so good to have a massive project to focus on); my four sweet and entertaining felines; voices of friends from afar; Netflix and books; short walks outside, far away from people; and of course cooking and baking. My kitchen is truly my sanctuary; I feel safe and comfortable there. With all of the scary stuff happening outside my house, standing at my counter creating recipes feels normal. And good. I like normal and good! I’ve been staying home LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO and honestly, it’s going okay. I’d pretty much planned on self-isolating until August when my manusc ript is due, but not quite as extreme as this. I long for the days far down the road when I can go out for dinner with my boyfriend. And go grab a coffee and chat with friends. And hug them! And pick my mom up so we can go get pedicures. I’m going to go to all of the movies and all of the concerts and I very well may hop a on a jet plane. And not be afraid. This all seems like a dream, but when the anxiety kicks in late at night, these are the small things I think of and honest to god I’ll never take them for granted again.
And, can I just say that going to the grocery store is really not fun any more. I used to love picking out my items, but now it’s super stressful and I get way too freaked out being around other people. The option of ordering groceries online sounds very appealing right now, though things will have to be disinfected before they’re brought inside the house. This what life looks like now. Lysol wipes and bleach water. I’ve gradually been stocking my pantry over the past month, because it was only a matter of time before the virus found its way to Saskatoon. Every time I went to the store I picked up a can or two of beans and last week I snagged a couple of bags of dried white beans and black turtle beans too because you never know. It’s good to have options! While others were grabbing carloads of toilet paper, I was going for shelf stable pantry items that will keep me fed and happy. And beans make me happy! Black beans, kidney beans, and white beans are so versatile and nutritious, they’re one of the best things to have on hand during times like we’re facing now. Protein-packed and high in fibre, beans can be used in all sorts of recipes for dips and spreads, stews and chili, salads and pasta, heck even smoothies and brownies! Ontario is a hub of bean production in Canada, with over 1200 farmers growing eight types of beans. Most of these (80-90%) will be exported around the world. Beans are super rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and they’re inexpensive to buy. While the world flips and flops it’s important to me that I eat healthy and watch the grocery budget. Beans check the boxes for both. And they taste good!
Beans are a natural fit for soup, and like many of you, I’ve been making lots of it. Soup really is a balm for the soul, and this recipe is hearty and tasty, but also super good for you too. Pantry items like crushed tomatoes and chicken stock are used here, but if you only have diced or whole tomatoes, that’s fine. If you don’t have stock, you can use water. If you don’t have white beans you can use kidney beans, or black beans. I love using flavourful sausage as a base for soup as all of the spices and herbs are right there. If you want to keep it vegetarian, just add a tsp each of dried oregano, basil, and paprika to the vegetables. Last time I went grocery shopping I bought a couple of bunches of kale, as it looked really fresh and it can last in the fridge for a week or so. This dark leafy green is packed full of nutrients, so I’m gonna keep eating it as much as possible. Kale and white beans together forever! If you have a hunk of cheese you can grate over each bowl, then do so. Be generous – these are the days for eating all of the cheese!
There’s something quite soothing about a pot of something delicious bubbling away on the stove. Life carries on. We cook, we eat. I hope everyone reading this is safe and well. And I hope it stays that way.
1 Tbsp canola oil
3-4 links fresh Chorizo or Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp salt
pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 (28 oz/798 mL) can crushed tomatoes
1 (16 oz/540 ml) can white kidney beans, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp honey
4 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed (can use spinach or Swiss chard instead)
1 cup chopped parsley 1/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste
grated Pecorino Romano, Parmesan or Asiago to serve