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Ingredient: Parmesan rind

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

I love to spend a few hours cooking on Sunday in order to set myself up with healthy, satisfying meals for the week. One dish that I often cook on Sundays is a large pot of beans. Canned beans are convenient but there is something special about cooking dried beans which you can infuse with your favorite flavors. Plus, cooking them at home also allows you to control the amount of sodium that you put into the beans.

Heirloom Beans

Recently, I have become obsessed with heirloom beans. Luckily,there are few companies that are preserving the incredible diversity of beans beyond what you will find canned in the grocery store. There are two companies whose gorgeous beans I haven’t been able to resist in the past. With names like Tongues of Fire, Orca, and Rattlesnake, these heirloom beans are really beautiful, like little works of art. They make me want to buy all the clear glass containers to store them in my pantry. #pantrygoals

Rancho Gordo is a California-based company that specializes in dried heirloom beans. The other is Zursun Heirloom Beans, an Idaho-based company that also sells an amazing collection of dried beans, many of which, you may not have ever seen before. I know I haven’t seen them available anywhere in regular grocery stores. I encourage you to check out the selection of beautiful beans that both companies sell.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

About This Recipe

In this recipe, I used Zursun’s Flageolet beans which are a favorite of the French for their cassoulet. These white beans are prized for their delicate flavor and pretty pale green color. You could use any dried white beans and they would be perfectly fine.

While the beans cook, they soak up the favors of the sage, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. The beans cook until they are creamy consistency. You add the kale, spicy red pepper flakes, and more cheese right at the end and cook until the kale wilts.

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

You end up with a stew-like consistency. You can ladle it into a bowl or spoon it on top of slices of toasted crusty bread. This meal is so hearty and satisfying; I guarantee that you will love how it warms you up from inside on cold winter days. If you have any leftover they will taste even better the next day in your brown bag lunch. I promise!

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

White Beans and Tuscan Kale

Parmesan Broth with White Beans and Kale

Parmesan Broth with White Beans and Kale

You don’t throw away those end rinds of Parmesan cheese, do you? Please don’t. Ever. Take them and place them in a freezer baggie and freeze them for future use. Or, next time you are at a grocery store that has a nice cheese section, look around, sometimes stores will sell the rinds. Buy them. Every single one that you can find and stash them in the freezer like you are a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter. These little flavor bombs are perfect to add to soups, stews, a pot of beans, and, of course, making Parmesan broth.

Parmesan Broth

Making a pot of Parmesan broth is ridiculously simple. Plus, the smell of Parmesan broth cooking on your stove top will infuse your kitchen with the most delectable smell. The broth can be ready in under an hour. Then, you can decide whether add a few more ingredients and have dinner on the table or if you want to use the broth later, place it in the fridge or freezer for future use.

To make the broth you will put water, an onion, cloves of garlic, and the Parmesan rinds into a pot or Dutch oven. You don’t even have to peel the onions and garlic! Simmer for 45 minutes. Then, strain the soggy solids out which will have given up every ounce of flavor, and there you will have Parmesan broth. Now comes the fun part. What ingredients will you add to transform this broth into a scrumptious bowl of soup?

Parmesan Broth with White Beans and Kale

The world is your oyster here! Feel free to add whatever soup ingredients that you like. I decided to add a can of white beans, some leftover cooked quinoa, and kale. The addition of these ingredients transforms the Parmesan broth into an incredibly satisfying and hearty meal.

This recipe was inspired by the incredible Julia Turshen cookbook ‘Small Victories’. I would encourage you to track down a copy. Julia is a cookbook author, food writer, and hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe which featured interviews with amazing women in the world of food.

Small Victories book cover Turshen

In the recipe from Small Victories, Julia added peas and some small pasta to her Parmesan broth. One of the features of the cookbook that I really enjoy in that she offers variations for all her recipes. I find that those suggestions inspire my creativity and also encourage me to look around my fridge, freezer, and pantry to use ingredients that I already have on hand rather than running to the store. One of her variations recommended beans and greens which I almost always have on hand. Plus, I had some leftover quinoa in the fridge so I threw that into the pot too. The result was an perfectly warming meal on a frigidly cold night.

Parmesan Broth with White Beans and Kale

Parmesan Broth with White Beans and Kale Pin

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