Italian Vegetable Stew

Autumn has holds a special place in my heart. I was born in the fall, school starts in the fall (I loved school), and I mysteriously become energized, renewed with the changing of the leaves and the crisp fell of morning New England air. Along with the change in season, my cooking and baking use different ingredients and flavors.

I love hearty stews packed with veggies and flavor. I prefer to make my own soups and stews, and I can control the fat and salt content, making healthy dishes.

Kale can be tough, and lightly cooking before adding to a stew tenderizes the veggie. Colorful vegetables, fragrant fresh herbs, and a low salt vegetable broth make this a hearty, healthy option.

This recipe makes a large quantity of stew and freezes well. If I am not feeding a group, I like to freeze the stew in individual containers.

1 small bunch Tuscan or other kale, center ribs and stems removed
Kosher salt
½ cup olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
2 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
4 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cans diced tomatoes, no salt
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 15-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
4 sprigs thyme
1 sprig marjoram or oregano
1 bay leaf

1 cup Italian farro, rinsed

2 inch piece of Parmesan rind (optional)


Freshly ground black pepper
Shaved Parmesan (for serving)


Working in batches cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, about 3 minutes per batch. Rinse to cool. Squeeze out excess water; roughly chop. Set aside.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and leek; stir often until softened, 8–10 minutes.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is evaporated and tomatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, 10–15 minutes.

Add broth, beans, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, reserved greens, farro and partisan rind; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld and soup thickens slightly, 40–50 minutes. Discard sprigs and bay leaf.

DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing. I also like to freeze in small containers for later.

Enjoy!

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