Smoky Kale and White Bean Soup: #SundaySupper

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Healthy, hardy soup packed with kale, tomatoes, and white beans to give you comfort on a cold day.

Kale, tomato, bean soup, healthy, cooking for a crowdLast night we went to a party to celebrate a milestone birthday of a good friend. He was turning 60 and his wife threw a party at a local restaurant. Forty of us showed up for the feast, fun, and laughter; and something more.

While we sipped wine and noshed on crabcakes, a nearby screen flashed photos of his childhood, wedding day, their two smiling children in various stages of growing up, and travels to all corners of the earth. Scenes from Antarctica, Nepal, Argentina, New Zealand and Mount Kilimanjaro spilled into the room, along with photos from the many marathons/triathlons/ironmans/century bike rides the host has participated in. Many of our photos were up there too, part of his extended family.

As one by one, people stood up after dinner to share a story about him (our admission ticket of sorts), I began to reflect on what makes a life well-lived.

Work that fulfills us, and fills our days with meaningful labor surely goes in the ‘plus’ column.

Making enough money to give our loved ones, and ourselves, the lifestyle we want is usually high on the list too.

But in the frenzy of life, it’s easy to forget that it’s so much more than that.

What I witnessed last night was the bountiful yield reaped from a lifetime of emotional investing: in creating a strong marriage with his wonderful wife, who I’m happy to call a close friend; in raising two happy, emotionally and physically healthy adult children who stood up to share with us how much they love him; and a roomful of friends who know they can call on him (or his wife) day or night if they need someone.

This wasn’t an epiphany – it’s something we all know, and I think, try to do as best we can. Some days we do a lot better than other days, and I’m sure that’s true for him too.

I’m married to someone who has also lived a well-lived and emotionally generous life, as evidenced by his strong relationship with his step-children, our grandchildren, friends, and colleagues. It strikes me that anyone who finds a life partner, raises children, or has a close-knit extended family, is served up opportunities for this emotional investment. But for me, an only child of two parents who weren’t particularly family oriented by their own admission, with a very small extended family I only got to know as an adult, my life has been more solitary. I have a solid circle of close friends who’ve been in my life for a very long time, who have enriched my life immensely, and to whom I hope I’ve been a good friend. But I’ve lived alone for most of my life, need a certain amount of solitude every day, and have been drawn into the deeper commitment of family later in life. So last night was a powerful reminder of the importance of emotional generosity, of investing in others without weighing out the convenience (or the lack of it). Because it is this, that in the end makes a life worth living. It is a well-lived life.

Which brings us to #SundaySupper and its mission to draw family members away from the distractions of the day to a common table, to break bread together, and share food, conversation, and piece of themselves with each other. And today, I’m sharing this soup with you as part of this week’s #Sunday Supper dinner.

This has been my go-to soup for the last few months. Like a well-lived life, it makes me feel good; all nice and warm inside. I hope it makes you feel the same way.


Smoky Kale, Tomato and Bean Soup

     by Susan Pridmore

     Serves 8

       Prep Time: 15 minutes

       Cook Time: 3 hours (not including cooking


  • 6 slices bacon, cut into lardons (optional)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced horizontally
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 large twigs of thyme
  • 2 dried chipotle peppers (optional)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) harissa (or make your own!)
  • 3 cups cooked white navy beans (with 1 cup of cooking liquid)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (including the reserved 1 cup of cooking liquid from the beans)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I only use San Marzano tomatoes in a can – it’s worth the extra money IMHO)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 4 – 6 cups kale, deveined, and sliced in thick slices (I use Dinosaur / Lacinato kale for this soup)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Day-old (or fresh) bread for croutons
  • Olive oil
  • garlic powder


Add the bacon lardons to a large soup pot over medium heat, and sauté until crispy.

Add the diced onion and celery slices, and sauté until just tender. Add the garlic, dried rosemary, and fresh thyme and continue to sauté for an additional two minutes.

Add the dried chipotle peppers and wine, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the harissa (a spicy Moroccan condiment available in most specialty stores), the cooked beans, broth, and diced tomatoes, and simmer for 2 hours at a low simmer. This concentrates the flavors beautifully.

Season with salt and pepper, and add the kale just before serving. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a handful of garlic croutons.

To make the garlic croutons, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice up day-old or fresh bread into cubes. Toss in olive oil and garlic powder – enough to lightly coat them, and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly crisped. The croutons can be stored in a plastic bag for one week in the refrigerator, or frozen for two months in the freezer.

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And now, please go visit with the rest of the #SundaySupper family to see what soups they brought to the table this week for us.

Sunday Supper Movement

Of course once you have seen all of the recipes for the day, you’ll not want to miss our  #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday

We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. This week we will be sharing out special soup recipes!

Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun.

Follow the#SundaySupper hash tag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Don’t forget to check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite soup, stew, chowder or bisque recipes with us!

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  1. says

    Another winning kale recipe! We’re going to declare Kale Soup Week and share this link on our Facebook page. Everyone should make it! Love the harissa in here, too — an underused spice.

    If you wish, come LIKE us on Facebook for more recipes and tips on super healthy greens like kale, chard, beet, mustard, turnip, collard, escarole and other green leafies.

    –Your friendly Southern California farmers at Cut `n Clean Greens

  2. says

    What a lovely and heartfelt post. It is those times with family and special friends that remind us of the important things in our lives. It’s good that you have found special friends and extended family to share those wonderful times.
    Nice addition of kale to this soup. It is a nice color against the tomato and white beans plus what a healthy kick too!
    Renee recently posted..Spicy Sweet Potato and Corn Soup for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  3. says

    Oh my goodness, what a beautiful post. One that I certainly can relate to. I too am an “only” and being the daughter of immigrant parents, felt very alone growing up without aunts, uncles or cousins.
    You are so right when you talk about emotional generosity. That is something I hope to instill in my children.
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!
    Family Foodie recently posted..This Week’s #WeekdaySupper RecipesMy Profile

  4. says

    Beautiful soup and even more beautiful sentiment. I learned so much about life and priorities when my dad was sick. It was like light bulbs went off. Great food with great company always ranks high on the list of things to spend time doing.

  5. says

    Susan, I love the sound of your recipe. I’ve been on a minestrone soup binge lately after reading The Prejudice Palate by Angelo Pellegrino. Your soup fits right in . Isn’t it wonderful to have friends who have a lifetime of friends and stories to share!
    Mare recently posted..THE PEASANT’S MINESTRONEMy Profile

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