Red Bean and Kale Soup with Cornbread Croutons

By • September 21, 2013 0 Comments

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Author Notes: My friend Kate came over for dinner one night with some roasted goat bones--leftovers from a party at a local farm. I had some stale cornbread, a pound of kidney beans, a can of tomatoes, and a bunch of kale. We decided to improvise a dinner around these ingredients: the bones became a rich stock, which then turned into a hearty bean and kale soup with crunchy cornbread croutons. It was the perfect meal for a rainy night.

Since goat bones aren't easy to come by, feel free to use beef stock or even lamb stock instead. You could also make this vegan by using a strong, savory vegetable broth--I imagine mushroom broth would work nicely.


Serves 4-6

For the soup:

  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium leek, halved, washed, and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 quarts beef, lamb, or goat stock
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8-10 whole allspice berries
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

For the croutons:

  • 2 cups cubed stale cornbread
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover, or do a quick soak: place the beans in a large pot with cold water to cover, bring to a vigorous boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, and set aside.
  2. In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrot, leek, red chili flakes and a pinch of salt, and saute until the carrots are soft and the leeks are translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and saute an additional minute or two. Add tomatoes and wine and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the wine has reduced and the liquid in the pan has thickened. Add soaked beans, stock, thyme, bay leaf, allspice and Parmesan rind (if using). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and skimming off any cloudy white foam that comes to the top.
  3. Add the kale or collards to the soup. Simmer 1 more hour, or until the beans are fully cooked and the soup has coalesced.
  4. While the soup simmers, make the croutons. Preheat oven to 400º F, place an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and line a baking sheet with foil. Toss cornbread cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread them on the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cornbread cubes are browned on one side. Turn the cubes over and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the croutons are browned and crisp on all sides–they’ll be soft and pillowy inside at first, and turn crunchy as they cool.
  5. Once the soup is done, remove and discard bay leaf, allspice berries, and Parmesan rind (if using). Ladle soup into bowls, and top each bowl with a handful of croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.
  6. Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. The croutons will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

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