Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup and Cornbread with a Honey/Butter Glaze

It's a gray, rainy evening in the Pacific Northwest and soup just seem the right choice for dinner tonight; actually, I could eat soup every night:)  Even when I was in 7th grade on a school trip to Washington, D.C. visiting Congress and the Smithsonian, I had bean soup.  "Senate Bean Soup" was my  favorite soup when I was growing up and my mother would use a big ham hock and white navy beans to cook a large pot of soup that would feed our big family at least a couple of nights.  In fact, the joke around our house was that this soup seemed to "grow." LOL

Another good reason for soup is that this soup costs about $5.00 to make!  That's a great deal in this economy; then, add this moist, sweet cornbread and a salad and you have a complete meal.

Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup

3 T Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cans (15 oz) Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans)
1 bunch of Kale
6 cups vegetable stock (or you can use 3 Vegetable bouillon cubes and 6 cups of water)
2 T Sundried Tomato Paste
1 tsp. dried Sage, crushed
2 T. cornmeal
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste

Use a 6 quart sauce pan and heat the olive oil on medium heat for several minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Let this sit for 30 minutes so flavors are enhanced.
(I did this step while I was mixing up the Banana Pumpkin Bread.)

Return the garlic/red pepper flake oil to the stove.  Next, drain and rinse three cans of cannellini beans, then, add to the saucepan, stirring to incorporate.  Add the vegetable broth (or water and bouillon cubes) and stir again.  Add the sundried tomato paste and sage, stir well and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat to low and cover.  Cook 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the spines of the kale, then, rinse well.
Chop into bite size pieces.
Use an emulsion blender to puree the bean mixture.  (If you don't have an emulsion blender, puree, in small batches, in a blender).
Add the kale and cover once again to cook thoroughly--about 15 minutes.  Remove lid and add the 4th can of cannellini beans and heat for another 5-7 minutes.  Finally, to thicken the soup, mix the 2 tablespoons of cornmeal with the juice of half of a lemon.  To make a thinner paste, add a few tablespoons of the soup broth.  Add this cornmeal paste to the soup and cook another 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Cornbread with a Honey/Butter Glaze
 4 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
6 T unsalted butter, melted, plus 4 T butter for the skillet
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1-2 T fresh chives, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Place a 12-inch iron skillet in the oven to heat.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the sugars and whisk to combine, then, add the melted butter and oil and whisk again.  Add the flours, baking powder, salt and chives, alternately with the buttermilk.  Stir well to combine completely.  Meanwhile, add the 4 tablespoons of butter to the hot skillet.  Return to the oven and heat until melted.
Pour the cornbread mixture into the hot/buttered skillet.
Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  While the cornbread is baking, make the glaze.

Honey/Butter Glaze
4 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan.  After the butter melts, stir well and keep mixture on low.

After 25 minutes of baking, open the oven and pull the rack out with the skillet.  Poke several holes in the top of the cornbread and slowly pour the honey/butter over top.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 5-7 minutes.  The top of the cornbread should be lightly browned and shimmering with the glaze.
Let cool 15 minutes, then cut into wedges.
The cornbread is moist and sweet, but more importantly, it goes so well with a great soup or even chili.
Make this meal an autumn special for your family.  Enjoy!


  1. oh.my. the cornbread!!!
    when can i move in exactly? ; )

  2. You, my friend, can come anytime:)

  3. Dear Sister, this is just one more thing we share in common----soup every night of the week and even every lunch is just fine with me!!! And this is one great soup that you shared with me a few years ago. It is still one of my favorites. I may not be able to wait for our fall crop of kale to be ready and although our temps are still way above 90, I may have to succumb and make this wonderful soup. I'm also anxious to try the cornbread with the honey/butter glaze---sounds really yummy!!

  4. We're really into fall, so I've just accepted it and I make soup:) I can't wait until we live closer and can have soup together. xoxo

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