Now you could make this soup any time of the year with any vegetables you like, but I think it is a perfect autumn and winter dish. The kale – omnipresent at this time of year in the Netherlands – the warmth of the harissa, and the stick-to-the-ribs heartiness of this soup seem to be made for shorter days and lower temperatures.
But as much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for this gorgeous soup; I was given the recipe by my lovely friend Dawn. Apart from some tweaks (I can’t help myself, but I suppose making dishes your own is what cooking is all about), this is basically her original recipe.
I’ve made this soup several times and I know it will be a staple in the Veg Chop household for many years to come. It is a very adaptable recipe, so be creative and add or leave out whatever you like: use carrot or more onion instead of the celery, sub the kale with spinach, add mushrooms or cubed pumpkin or even potato. And you could of course use tinned beans instead of ones you’ve soaked and cooked yourself, but the bean broth does add a lovely depth of flavour.
200 g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
1 1/2 litre (1500 ml, 15 dl) water
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsps tomato purée
1 or 2 tbsps harissa paste, depending on how hot you like it and on your harissa.
150 g kale, finely chopped
1 to 2 tsps of powdered vegetable stock (optional, and depending on preference and saltiness of the bean broth and the stock powder).
2 to 3 tbsps lemon juice, to taste. Go easy at first, you can always add more later.
– Drain the soaked beans, rinse and put them in a large pot with the water. Bring to the boil (don’t add salt at this stage), then simmer, lid on. I use a flame diffuser here, but if you don’t have one and you’re worried about the pan boiling over with the lid on it, put the lid on askew but start out with an extra 250 ml of water.
– Cook until very soft (an hour and 10 minutes when I cooked it this time, but it depends on soaking time and the beans themselves). Liberally salt towards the end of the cooking time. Set aside.
– Sauté the onion and celery until golden.
– Add garlic, tomato purée and harissa, sauté for a few minutes more.
– Add the kale, beans and their broth, and stock powder (if using).
– Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
– Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.