Quick to pull-together, hearty and nourishing. Enjoy Lemon-Garlic White Bean, Kale and Fennel Soup with a thick slice of crusty sourdough to make a cozy meal. This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
This time of year used to bring me conflicted feelings. I’ve been working on this for several years and am finally at a point where I’m more confident in how I feel about it and the way in which I choose to spend my time during the holiday season. Thankfully Rob has similar feelings and we’ve been able to work together through our shifting traditions.
During my early adult life, I found going into debt, internal pressure to find the perfect gift (and worse, sometimes to find and give a gift I really didn’t want to give – I know this sounds awful), having a beautifully decorated home and the associated stress this time of year brings to be overwhelming. Society told me a lot about how I should behave. I often felt not enough because when attempting to make sure I had it all together, it just brought more anxiety. But because traditions were strongly held to, I persisted. Yet, in my heart, something wasn’t quite right. Oh what I would have told my younger self.
Ripping into a package to find a treasure gave me a moment of excitement and gratitude. But the excitement faded, and I found, more often than not, the gift collected dust or went unused only to add to unwanted clutter, be returned (the looong lines) or donated later.
I found over time, I typically didn’t remember what was gifted or received. But instead, it was the time spent together that I remembered most; playing games, reflecting, talking, baking, taking a hike, planning travel in the new year and/or laughing for example. Ahhh… this is what I craved and wanted more of.
Giving and Receiving
I became increasingly aware of the stuff I received as gifts, from family, of course, but also from work related gifting, friends and those white elephant party gifts. Some of these things I was hesitant to participate in, but in the spirit of the season, and to support the traditions of family, coworkers and friends, I wanted to be a part of these events. Not that I wasn’t grateful for the thought and effort behind these gifts. That was never the point.
The point was not only my mental and emotional wellbeing, but also the collective impacts on our environment.
“Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!” (Stanford University)
I didn’t know this statistic at the time my views were evolving, but taking a drive down the street on garbage collection day year after year post-Christmas holiday was enough for me to realize the added burden placed on natural resources and burgeoning landfills. So it’s not just the waste we generate, but the generation of more stuff. All this stuff has to come from and go somewhere. And at what cost?
The Story of Stuff
Then I discovered a video produced by Annie Leonard titled The Story of Stuff.
This is heavy to take, but it helped me understand what had been eating at me for years, through gathering bits and pieces of it in college, my own observations and through periodicals I read. Moving forward, I wanted to continue to shift my behavior but now I had a clearer picture of why.
A New Soup
More on my holiday shift, how I choose to do things different and how this has made the holidays so much more enjoyable, in next week’s post. Until then, let’s talk about something a little lighter and easier to digest; this soup!
I started making a similar recipe from Bon Appetit years ago when our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share offered mustard greens. Now, this Texas girl knew nothing about mustard greens, so I started investigating, making and tasting.
Raw, I’m not so much a fan of the bitter tender greens, but cook them down a bit and they turn into a sweet and mild powerhouse of deliciousness! Now, I’m completely smitten. But mustard greens can be difficult to come by and, they have a short season. So I started using kale in lieu of, which is pretty much available year round from our local farms and in stores.
I also increased the lemon and garlic and omitted the parmesan cheese. You know, I love parmesan cheese, but felt this soup is perfect without it. I’d rather reserve the dairy for smearing butter on a thick slice of crusty Sourdough Bread! Besides, you’ll need something to sop up all that flavor infused broth.
Best of all, Lemon-Garlic White Bean, Kale and Fennel Soup can be on the table in under 30 minutes! I think it tastes better on day two.
I’d love to know…
how has your holiday story evolved or what new traditions have you created? Also, have you tried mustard greens? Share in the comments!
Lemon-Garlic White Bean, Kale and Fennel Soup
- 1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 C (100g) Yellow Onion diced, about one medium
- 1 C (135g) Fennel Bulb* (see note) fronds trimmed and reserved, bulb sliced thin and chopped, about one large fennel
- 2-3 tsp Garlic minced, about 4-5 medium cloves (I like 3 tsp - but keep it milder with 2 tsp)
- 1/2 lb (215g) Bunch Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale stems removed, and chopped into bite size pieces (about 1 big bunch)
- 2 C (15oz / 425g) Cannellini Beans (aka white kidney beans) cooked, or one can, rinsed and drained
- 4 C (875g) Vegetable Broth** (see note)
- 1 C (237g) Water adjust up if a souper soup is desired
- 2 Lemons
- Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven or medium stock pot, add the olive oil. Heat to shimmering and stir in the onions and fennel. Cook on medium low for about 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the onions and fennel have softened.
- Add the garlic and kale, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook on medium low until the kale is wilted, stirring a few times, about 3 minutes.
- Add the beans, broth and water, stirring gently so the beans don't break. Bring to a simmer, then turn to low. Cook to warm through about 5-10 minutes.
- Finish with a squeeze of half a lemon, plenty of fresh ground pepper and fine sea salt to taste. Serve with more lemon and chopped fennel fronds.