Friday, March 11, 2011

Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup.

I love this soup and it loves me back, which is why I chose the recipe to demonstrate for folks attending the Living with Diabetes Expo in Salem, Virginia, this Saturday.

It would be nice if all I ate was brioche tartine or heart-shaped cookies or chocolate cobbler, but the reality for me and my family is a whole lotta metabolic syndrome. Our family food culture, like a lot of those in this region, is heavy on carbohydrates, white flour, white sugar and all the things that lead to insulin resistance and eventually, type 2 diabetes. It's an uphill battle to change that culture, but one we continue to pursue, always looking and trying new recipes that will lure us away from those go-to favorites.

My personal goal is to change what I crave, to find foods that nourish but are so tasty, they become the first thing I think of when asking myself what I want for dinner. It takes solid research to learn about things like the glycemic index and well-balanced meals, what to leave in, what to take out. But it's totally worth it. Once you understand nutritional value, then you start looking for what appeals to you, within these guidelines. This warming soup is one of the rewards of my search. Not feeling yucky after a meal - that's another - along with living longer and not being dependent on drugs to metabolize my intake.

There are a lot of versions of this recipe out there. You'll find them with carrots, celery, and probably things you'd add that I wouldn't. Additionally, after I've eaten this soup for a day or two, I'll change it up and serve it as a bruschetta.

If you like bruschetta, or croutons on your soup, this whole grain ciabatta makes a happy healthy choice - I just substituted whole wheat flour and 7-grain cereal for half the bread flour. Remember, you really do need the nutrients in whole grains, so don't cut them out.
Do you have a favorite leafy green vegetable? By all means, things like collards, chard, spinach will do just fine. Same with the beans - I like the creaminess of cannellini, but Michigan navy beans and great Northerns do the job nicely.

Recipe for Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup


2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 t. minced garlic

1 pound fresh kale, stalks removed, roughly chopped
2 cans cannellini or other white beans, drained

32 oz. carton of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or Asiago cheese


Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat until the onion is translucent and softened.

Add kale to the pot and cover, letting it wilt – approximately 5 to 10 minutes – stirring to prevent sticking.

When kale has reduced to about half its volume, add in beans and broth, plus heel of Parmesan for extra flavor. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer until kale is tender – approximately 20 minutes.

Ladle into soup bowls, add croutons, shave cheese over top and drizzle olive oil to finish. This makes four generous servings.
Now, I don't know about you, but where I most often get into trouble is dessert cravings. I'll have a lovely, filling and nutritious dinner, feel pretty good, and if there's a Krispy Kreme box on the counter, I'm helpless. BUT, that does not have to be the case. With a bit of pantry planning, you can have this:
Peach halves, caramelized in a grill pan, served with crumbled meringues. Shocking, right? Just a bit of research reveals that one large peach has about 60 calories and 15 grams of carbs. These vanilla meringues from Cooking Light magazine weigh in at a skimpy 13 calories each with 3 grams of carbohydrate and NO fat. Insane, yes? Insanely good!

If you're in the area or would like more information on Living with Diabetes, here's a link to Saturday's event: 


  1. This recipe looks amazing. All my favorite ingredients in one delicious combination. And it's good for me, too? Can't be beat.

  2. I made the soup and grilled peaches for the folks last night and they gobbled it down. Didn't hurt that I had (now whole grain) ciabatta on the side. Let me know what you think, and keep sharing those delish veg recipes, plz.♥