Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Ham and Sherry Vinegar (Crockpot or Stovetop Recipe)

Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Ham and Sherry VinegarBesides writing about food and South Beach Diet friendly recipes on Kalyn's Kitchen, I also write for a site called For January I'm writing a series of posts there called Eat Your Greens. I started with Kale, and I somewhat sheepishly had to admit that although I've made several tasty dishes with the Red Russian Kale I've grown in my garden, I'd never once cooked dark green kale. Since Kale has more nutrition per calorie than almost other food, I really wanted to start using it. Luckily my store had it on special for $.99 a bunch, so I bought three nice bunches, and this soup is the first thing I made.

If you don't have a crockpot, check after the recipe for instructions on how to adapt this recipe for stovetop cooking. This is really a simple and rustic soup, but I bumped it up at the end by adding some Spanish sherry vinegar, which added a delightful just-sour-enough-to-be-interesting flavor to the soup. Some sherry vinegars are as expensive as an imported balsamic vinegar, but I used a fairly inexpensive brand and it was still delightful (see below.) If you don't have sherry vinegar, I'd try a small amount of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead.

I wanted this to be a "dump in the Crockpot and go" type of recipe, so I was careful that the onion was very finely diced. (Personally I don't like big chunks of onion in soup!)

I used one bunch kale, definitely on the smallish size, and I ended up with about 5 1/2 cups of chopped kale.

No matter whether your kale leaves are large or small, cut away the center ribs and discard, then coarsely chop the curly green leaves.

Kale can be gritty, so I gave the chopped leaves a quick spin in the salad spinner. No need to dry thoroughly, since it's going into soup.

I literally just dumped the onion, garlic, chopped kale, canned cannellini beans, and diced ham into the crockpot. Then I poured in the ham stock and chicken stock, and added a pinch of red pepper flakes and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

If you don't have ham stock, you can use some ham flavor base, or you may not need it if you have flavorful ham. I'm a fan of this Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate, but I've also used Penzeys or Better Than Bouillon brands.

I wanted to eat it that day, so I cooked my soup on high for just under four hours. You could also cook on low for a longer time.

I added just a small drizzle of this Spanish sherry vinegar to each bowl of soup when I served it. I got this relatively inexpensive vinegar at Tony Caputo's Market and Deli in Salt Lake, and if your town has a store that sells imported food you can probably find something similar. I loved the mild barely-sour flavor of sherry vinegar in this soup, but any type of mild flavor will add some interest, so use whatever you have.

Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Ham and Sherry Vinegar
(Makes 6-8 servings but this freezes well; recipe created by Kalyn.)

I used a 4.5 quart Crockpot Slow Cooker for this recipe, but any size from 4-5 quarts will be fine.

1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 T minced garlic (or less if you don't love garlic like I do)
1 small bunch of dark green kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
2 cans cannellini beans (15.5 oz. each) or 3 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 cups diced ham (use ham with less than 10% fat for South Beach Diet)
4 cups ham stock + 2 cups chicken stock (or use 6 cups chicken stock plus some ham flavor base)
1-2 tsp. or packets ham flavor base (optional, but recommended if using chicken stock)
1 cup water (plus more for stovetop cooking)
red pepper flakes to taste (I used just a pinch)
freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used a lot of pepper)
Spanish sherry vinegar or other mild vinegar for serving (optional, but just a small amount of vinegar drizzled on the soup when serving added a lot of interesting flavor)

Crockpot Instructions:
Finely chop onion and mince garlic (or use minced garlic from a jar.) Add onion and garlic to slow cooker. Cut away center ribs from kale, coarsely chop, and rinse in salad spinner or colander. Add kale to slow cooker. Add cannellini beans and chopped ham to slow cooker.

Pour in ham stock, chicken stock, and 1 cup water, plus ham flavor base if using. Add red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, or until kale is fully cooked and softened and flavors are well blended. Serve hot, with a little vinegar drizzled on the soup when serving if desired.

Stovetop Instructions:
Use a heavy 4-5 quart soup pot. Add all ingredients to soup pot as above, adding 1 cup more water. Simmer soup on low for 1 hour or a little longer, checking about every 30 minutes to see if you need to add more water. (Be sure the simmer is gentle so the beans don't break apart.) Soup is done when kale is cooked and tender and flavors are well blended. Serve hot, with a little vinegar drizzled on the soup when serving if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This is a great low-glycemic soup recipe for any phase of the South Beach Diet. Dried beans and legumes are allowed for any phase, but in The South Beach Diet Supercharged (the latest book) there's a recommendation to start with 1/3 - 1/2 cup of beans for phase one. That's one reason I used a lot of ham and kale in proportion to the beans in this recipe. I would eat a small serving of this for phase one with something like Mary's Perfect Salad as a side dish.

More Phase One Recipes with Kale You Might Like:
Sausage and Red Russian Kale Soup with Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen
Red Kale and Cheese Omelet for Two from Kalyn's Kitchen
Red Russian Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sauteed Kale with Smoked Paprika from Simply Recipes
Kale Chips from The Kitchn
Kale-Almond Pesto from Elana's Pantry (serve over grilled chicken or fish for phase one)
Zucchini, Tomato, And Kale Saute from Eat This
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

This heart soup with uber-nutritious kale is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, managed by the talented Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once and hosted this week by Maninas from Maninas: Food Matters. You can find out Who's Hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and check the Rules for Weekend Herb Blogging at Haalo's blog.

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More to Chew On:


  1. This looks delicious. Can't wait to try it!

  2. A georgous & ooh so healthy soup & I so love the addtion of the fine sherry vinegar,..that must add a lot of subtile taste!!

  3. Looks great! I can't wait to try it!

  4. Looks so good! I saved the recipe to try it sometime :)

  5. it's summer here in sydney, and yet this soup is exactly what i feel like. hearty, wholesome and no doubt very tasty. so jealous!!!

    i just want to say thanks for my lovely magnet. i saw the envelope and got such a happy surprise. it's the only calendar we have in the house every year and it keeps jonas on track! thanks again.

  6. This looks so good, and something I might try to make this (long) weekend, since I've still got some blanched kale from the summer in the freezer. I had no idea there were products like ham concentrate - I'm going to look for some, since it will be useful in making different kinds of pea soups as well.

  7. I've got a ham bone that is taking up so much room in my freezer. I think I've just found it's destiny.

  8. Looks like a wonderful soup. I will definitely seek out Eat Your Greens and love to see the sherry vinegar in the recipe. I have been thinking about trying ham base for a while and looked at the three varieties recommended in your post. Both Better Than Bouillon and Penzeys use ham as the primary ingredient. The first three ingredients of the Goya brand are salt, MSG and artificial ham flavor. I'm going to avoid Goya.

  9. Nice to hear that people like my idea of adding the sherry vinegar; it really did perk this up. I'm glad I can introduce people to the idea of ham flavor base. I am aware that the Goya brand has msg, but personally I'm not sensitive to it, and after writing The Debate Continues About the Safety of MSG for BlogHer and reading quite a bit about it, I'm convinced it's safe for most people. I do prefer the Goya brand of ham concentrate for flavor, but obviously everyone should use whatever brand they want.

  10. Sounds like a great recipe! I don't think it's an issue for soup, but apparently the new crockpots are "hotter" and times may need to be changed.

  11. It's raining here in Santa Monica. This soup looks like the perfect meal for a wet, chilly Monday. I love the addition of the sherry vinegar.

  12. I love the addition of sherry vinegar to this soup. I've become a huge fan of drizzling some on just about any brassica vegetable. It really mellows and enhances the flavor.

    Great recipe Kalyn!

  13. A lovely soup for a rainy gray day. Thank you Kalyn!

  14. I made this for lunch today and it was fantastic - I could not find ham flavoring, so I used a touch of liquid smoke which was a nice flavor addition. I almost forgot the sherry vinegar, but remembered to add it in the second helping, and it was a wonderful touch!

  15. Sounds like a lot of people are having rainy days today! Here it's a little cloudy, but not bad.

    Tom, great idea to use some liquid smoke in this!

  16. This is my kind of soup -- except for the ham, so I will try my standby substitutions, either liquid smoke or barbecue sauce. Or smoked paprika.

  17. Just the perfect soup for this rainy wintry week! I am looking forward to your kale collection.. kale is something I am hoping to use more in my diet this season. Love the soup, I might substitute ham with potatoes or something to make it vegetarian. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Kalyn,
    I love kale and this looks super rich and delicious. The sherry vinegar is such a lovely touch!

  19. Soup Swap at work on Friday...this is a definite candidate! Sounds easy and delicious.

  20. Mmm, love my greens and nothing warms you better from the inside out than a bowl of hearty soup - looks delicious!

  21. I love kale - will be looking forward to all your recipes, and this soup, by the way.... PERFECT!

  22. Your soups are the best - so flavorful and such delicious combos of food. Thanks for another great recipe!

    My grandmother always added vinegar to her soups just before serving, and I now know why - it adds tons of flavor!


  23. Kayln,
    Thanks for the plug of Tony Caputo's for vinegar. This looks amazing!!!
    Matt Caputo

  24. Lydia, great ideas for people who don't eat pork.

    I'm so glad people are liking this, such a simple rustic soup, but very good, especially with the sherry vinegar.

    Matt, absolutely love that vinegar!

  25. Kale is so good in bean soup, isn't it? We really must try using cannelini beans. (We usually use navy beans with this sort of soup.)

    Nice idea to add a bit of vinegar too. I usually add vinegar (apple cider vinegar) when stir-frying kale but I hadn't thought of adding it to soup.


  26. This was so good - even my kale-disliking husband loved it! Since I don't eat pork, I added smoked turkey sausage instead, with smoked paprika as per a prior poster's suggestion.

  27. I love Kale soup it is one of my favourite ways to use Kale up. I really enjoyed having the crock pot version of this recipe too - I am just getting back into using my crock pot seriously again, so it's great to get more ideas. Thanks!

  28. I'm going to have to try this in one of my clay pots.

  29. Made this again. Yum. My store didn't have kale! WHAT???? I bought spinach instead and just made it a pot soup. I forgot the vinegar at the end so I'm bummed about that but it was yum! I even had some for breakfast. ;)

  30. Glad you liked it. I do think it would be good with spinach too, although I'm a big fan of kale in soups.

  31. I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand and whipped this up yesterday. Because I didn't have quite enough ham, I threw in some chopped Canadian bacon and it worked really well. No ham stock or seasoning, either, but it was still delicious. Excellent recipe!
    Heidi from Florida

  32. Darn it!!! LOL. I made this again tonight for the 2nd time. I forgot to add the vinegar both times. Ugh. I'm sure it makes this very enjoyable soup even better!!!! Next time! :-)

  33. Well, good to know that it's good even without the vinegar!

  34. Me again! Definitely a family favorite here! I made this again with fresh kale from our garden and I used balsamic vinegar then we grated fresh parmesan cheese over the top. Awesome dinner!!!! Thank you again Kalyn!!!!

  35. Oh I am so glad you enjoyed it so much. And I am very jealous that you have garden kale already!


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