cooks

Kale & White Bean Soup, or your new favorite weeknight dinner

In one of my very first posts, I mentioned how much I make soup this time of year. I don’t know if I emphasized it enough.

For the last 4 or 5 consecutive weeks, I’ve made one of my favorite go-to soup recipes the exact same way. The EXACT same. No modifications. And trust me on how weird this is – I don’t really like leftovers and I get sick of repeated meals. But every Sunday when we jot down our meals before heading to the grocery store, either Steve or I says, “…so, the kale soup again, right?”

Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe I found in 2013, I’ve tweaked a little over the last few years until I found my perfect version. That meant adding garlic, caramelizing the onions, and seasoning with smoky, spicy paprika. And guys. IT NEVER GETS OLD! On top of that, the ingredients are cheap, easy to find in stores, and très healthy. It’s too good to be true. And that’s why I have this garlicky, smoky kale & white bean soup every week.

Kale & White Bean Soup

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

28 oz. cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

up to 4 cups of chicken stock *

2 cups of water

1.5 lbs kale, rinsed and stems removed

extra virgin olive oil

salt

pepper

smoked paprika

optional (but let’s be honest, not really): freshly shaved parmesan and toasted slices of sourdough

*the original recipe calls for two cups of stock, 4 cups of water. unfortunately, most stock comes in 4 cup containers, and it doesn’t live in the fridge forever. I’ve started doing 2 cups of stock, 4 cups of water when I’ll be making this soup again soon, and 4 cups of stock, 2 cups of water when I just want to use the whole container. I’ve also found that 3 cups of each works just fine. Like most of my favorite recipes, you just can’t mess it up.

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Registry essentials for cooks & hosts

My kitchen is always the center of activity when we have people over, and it used to drive me crazy.

I’d be saying polite things like “no its okay I don’t need any help” all while thinking frantic things like “get out of here there’s barely enough room for two people in my kitchen and you are in my way!!!! there are snacks in the other room! stop eating the ingredients!”

The kitchen was always a hot mess before a party (okay, that part hasn’t changed) and I felt kind of exposed and harried if someone was watching me.

When I finally learned to embrace the distractions, ahem, I mean the company, I found that I actually loved it. It’s so nice to spend more time chatting with the people you invited over, and no one is expecting your home to be like a restaurant – they just want to hang out with you! If that makes dinner a few minutes late, who cares… that’s what the extra bottle of wine is for 🙂

One outcome of this revelation was that I wanted to up my kitchen game. Our first apartment together had a teeny galley kitchen with a half-size gas oven that worked, coincidentally, about half the time. (Yes, this is a health hazard and yes, our landlord took their sweet time replacing it!) Our new kitchen has about double the cabinet space (yes!) with a full size oven (yes!), but it is an electric stove (boo) and an open kitchen into our living/dining room area (MAJOR boo. can’t hide the mess anymore!) Well, you can’t win ’em all!

With additional storage space and more eyes than ever on the action, it was time to get some nicer kitchen gear. These are classic pieces – though I’ll always love my fun, unique kitchen pieces, these are workhorses that get the job done and will look great in this apartment and 50 years down the road. For those of you who love to entertain, whether you’re actually registering or just taking yourself shopping, here are the most used and loved items from our registry!

 

  • Staub Oval Cocotte: oh wait, was this one obvious? It’s been in most of the pictures I’ve shared, so, yeah, probably pretty obvious. Beyond its obvious beauty, this thing is a champ on the stove or in the oven. From braising meats to simmering soups or chilis, this puppy can do it all and then look gorgeous on your table. The lid has little nibs on the inside that help keep moisture circulating while cooking and yield the most tender meat. That and the rich color made Staub an easy choice for me over Le Creuset!
  • Shun Classic collection knives: speaking of game changers, These. Are. Amazing. To be fair, my knife set before this was 6 years old and hadn’t been sharpened in quite some time. But still, the Shun set cuts through anything easy as butter.
  • KitchenAid Design Series Stand Mixer in Antique Copper: Because, duh. I’m not even going to say anything else. I love the color to death and it looks fantastic in my imaginary future white marble countertop kitchen. (Check back in 10 years to see if I’ve made any progress towards confirming that.) Champagne and Blueberry are equally stunning.
  • Wine decanter. Not that I always remember (or bother) to use it, but I’m always amazed by how it improves the taste of red wine. Plus, its a way more elegant look on your bar cart or table! This isn’t the exact one we have, but I love  its  shape!
  • Crate & Barrel Marin Dinner Plates in White: Steve and I had a HUGE debate about plates when we were registering! He favored the more classic/traditional styles, and I was all about modern looks with more color and texture. These were our compromise, and they are perfect! Equal parts new and classic, the crisp white is a great backdrop for all food and the texture and subtle greying on the organic-shaped rims are the perfect pop of interest. Plus, they look great with all the colorful plates I already have! 😉

What are your favorite kitchen pieces for cooking or entertaining? I’d love to know!