I bought my first bag of dried navy beans of the season last week and new I was truly in fall-mode. I can bake as many pumpkin loaves as I’d like to get me in the spirit, but I know I haven’t truly embraced the season until I make my first soup. To me navy beans always mean soup, and while I know this recipe isn’t rocket science on it’s best day – I really love it and found it special enough to bring to you here too.
This is one of those recipes that is nice to have in your back pocket for an easy weeknight dinner. Most of the ingredients (onions, celery, carrots) I keep chopped and frozen in the freezer for soup nights. Anything to make cooking feel easier and less of a chore. I sound like a mom with five kids, sheesh! I can only imagine what I’ll be able to whip up when that day comes (just kidding I only want two kids Scott, or maybe three? What did we decide?). Soft little navy beans, chewy farro, and dino kale leaves torn into small bits make up the bulk of this meal. The bay leaf and rosemary are soothing fall flavors to bring this dish down to comfort level, while the lemon juice and fresh black pepper at the end bring it up a bit and really release some wonderful flavors. Scott has asked for this recipe twice now and he is typically very vocal about his dislike of soup, so this one needed to get written down ;).
Life has been a little consuming lately. In the midst of setting and trying to plan for a bunch of new goals, Scott and I are also trying to figure out where to live. We don’t know if we will be in our current home for much longer, and are looking for new digs. So my mind has been trying to wrap itself around the fact that we don’t know where to go, trying to prepare for leaving possibly sooner than expected, and trying to research the abyss that is the map with all the cities and states full of possibility. Nothing is screaming out to us yet, and that makes me excited and anxious beyond belief. So when I walk into the kitchen I really just need the food to tell me what to make. And the navy beans said make soup.
To give my brain a little break this week, I thought I’d share about a book that has really impacted my view of cooking as of late. It’s called The Art of Flavor, by Daniel Patterson and Mandy Aftel. Instead of being a book of recipes telling you what to do, it’s a book on how to create flavor and thus build recipes based off of your knowledge of how different ingredients work together (there are still recipes to showcase this too). They teach you how acidity, sweetness, bitterness, etc, can work together or against one another depending on the ingredient. They teach you how to smell and taste your food, decipher it, and make adjustments to control the outcome for your liking. I love the section on “notes”, where they refer to a recipe like a musical score – needing top, middle, and high notes to help balance each bite of your food so it is at it’s best. I could write another four paragraphs on the outline of this book alone, but if anything I’ve said thus far has gripped you, I would recommend picking up a copy and diving in too. It’s been indispensable for me recently.
And lastly, happy Friday the 13th! So perfect it landed during “spooky month” too. I’ve been getting cravings for candy lately and know that means I need to whip up some homemade versions quick before I cave for all of those fun-sized (but is it really fun to have them so small?) bags at the store. A favorite of ours are my homemade Baby Ruth candy bars from a few years ago. Although a simple batch of no-bake cookies does the trick too ;). Soup and candy, I like you October. -xx
HEARTY KALE, NAVY BEAN, & FARRO SOUP W/ LEMON & BLACK PEPPER
Serves four to five, as a main dish.
2 cups dry navy beans (or 6 cups cooked)
fine sea salt, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 cup diced yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup dry faro
1 bunch (5 to 6 cups) dino kale
lemon juice & black pepper
If cooking the navy beans from scratch, soak during the day and drain before placing them in a large pot (or pressure cooker) on the stove. Cover with an inch or two of filtered water, add the bay leaf and dried rosemary, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until soft (or follow my method here for pressure cooking).
If using cooked navy beans, rinse and drain before adding to a large pot on the stove and covering with an inch or two of filtered water. Add the bay leaf and rosemary, and bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 10 minutes to boost the flavor of the beans.
After the beans have cooked, add the remaining ingredients (minus the kale). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes, or until the faro is plump. Stopping to stir occasionally and adding more water as the farro soaks it up (if needed).
When finished, remove the pot from the stove. Rinse the dino kale and trim the stems from the leaves (if they are large, leave if thin). Slice the leaves into 1 inch pieces, remove the lid from your soup pot and stir until all of the leaves are incorporated into the soup. Cover and let the greens wilt for another five to ten minutes before serving.
After ladling the soup into serving bowl(s), top with half a lemon’s worth of juice per portion (about 1 tablespoon). Add several cracks of fresh black pepper, and give the soup a little stir. These two additions make all the difference in the final flavors, so make sure not to skip them if you can.
Enjoy right away, and store leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or the freezer for up to a month. Defrost/reheat in a pot on the stove with a little additional water to loosen. Top with lemon and black pepper before serving as done above too.
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