Packed with earthy flavors, texture rich Smoky White Bean Kale and Wheat Berry Stew is quick to pull together with a long, slow simmer. Serve with the crustiest, seediest sourdough for a super cozy meal. Vegan.
A few weeks ago I shared about the fire that took the over 100-year- old Smith barn and consequently halted farming for one of our surrounding family farms. The barn and its contents was a total loss. There was some hesitation to rebuild, to continue farming, on behalf of the family.
Since that tragic day, the community has rallied in support of the farm and family. I’m so excited to share that Farmer Georgie of Willowood Farm has decided to harvest, rebuild and replant! Hooray!
Photographer Dave Stern shared a slideshow of Willowoods First Harvest After the Fire. Also, Georgie has set up a blog for sharing updates, ways to support support through fundraisers (farm-to-table dining here on Whidbey and Seattle- yeah!) and volunteer opportunities.
I’m grateful for those who have reached out in support of our greater food community through donations and words of support. This tragic loss has turned into a story of hope and inspiration.
Speaking of community, I have more good news! We have new feathered neighbors! Our chickadee box has residents (!!). I’ve been able to keep those dang house sparrows at bay by waiving them off when I hear their chirpy calls. House sparrows are invasive and tend to violently run off native song birds. The sparrows keep trying to get into the little hole, but their chubby bodies won’t fit! A win for the chickadees!
Just this week, chestnut-backed chickadees started pulling moss from our weed-ridden yard to build the base of their nest. They tend to work together. While one builds, the other watches for intruders (house sparrows) and defends the nest with a quick whip-whip call should a house sparrow make an effort to get in the box.
We are so excited about our new neighbors and are hopeful for their success as they are a species in decline in the Pacific Northwest.
The three other nest boxes Rob and I built were hung this past week as well. Two in a beloved forest preserve near our neighborhood and the other, at a friend’s home, in hopes of more nesting chickadees.
While signs of spring are all around, I’m still craving hearty soup and stews as the chilly rains continue. I’m seeing popsicles, strawberries and ice cream on social media though, so while some are warming up and already feeling the heat, many of us in the North are still in need of comfort food.
About the Recipe:
- Most of the 1 hour 40 minutes to make this stew is hands-off cooking time. Once the majority of the ingredients are added to the soup pot, it simmers away for about an hour and a half.
- To properly prepare dried beans and grains, they need to be soaked overnight. This is to improve their digestibility and nutrient absorption. However, I’ve prepared this stew with and without soaking, because I forgot or didn’t plan (almost always :/ ) , and achieved similar results.
- If dried cannellini beans are unavailable, use canned, but add them towards the end of cooking when the kale is added.
- Wheat berries are a slightly sweet, nutty and chewy whole grain. I love them so much, they’ve become a pantry staple. They add an earthy depth and heartiness to this stew. There are several varieties including hard red and hard white. I use hard white because that’s what I can find in the bulk bins, but either can be used (according to their package directions). Use the rest of your bag of wheat berries to make this Summer Garbanzo Salad.
- This stew thickens as it cooks, so if a thinner stew is desired, add more broth or water towards the end of cooking.
Smoky White Bean Kale and Wheat Berry Stew
- 1/2 C (125g) Dry Cannellini Beans* soaked overnight and rinsed
- 1/2 C (110g) Wheat Berries** (Hard White) soaked overnight and rinsed
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 C (145g) Leeks cut in half, lengthwise, and white and light green parts sliced thin (about 1 large)
- 1 C (110g) Carrots large dice
- 1 C (65g) Celery large dice
- 3 Large Cloves of Garlic minced
- 2 tsp Smoky Paprika
- 5 C (1.05kg) Vegetable Broth plus extra for thinning as needed (or water)
- 1 Can (411g) Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 4 Sprigs of Thyme
- 2 C (50g) Kale (I like Lacinato kale) or Swiss Chard chopped
- 1/4 C (6g) Parsley chopped
- 1 Lemon
- Heat oil on medium in a large soup pot or dutch oven to just shimmering. Add the leeks, carrots and celery and cook on medium-low stirring occasionally for 6-7 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic and paprika, just enough to coat the vegetables. Pour in the beans, wheat berries, broth, tomatoes and sprigs of thyme (the leaves will fall off during cooking and you'll fish out the stems later). Bring the stew to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer with the lid on for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes stirring a few times and checking to see if more broth (or water) is needed as the stew will thicken towards the end of cooking. Adjust as needed with broth or water. The soup is ready when the beans are tender and the wheat berries are tender yet still chewy.
- Five minutes before removing the stew from the heat, stir in the kale. It will wilt down slightly. Just before serving, stir in the parsley and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Season with plenty of pepper and salt to taste. Serve with more parsley and lemon wedges.
- Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two weeks. Thaw in the fridge overnight and gently reheat on the stove.