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The Hand Off: White Bean, Red Kuri and Kale Soup

2011 November 3

by Brianna BainSan Diego, CA – Cool Weather calls for warm soup! After reading Allison’s perogie recipe I was in the mood for some “feel good” “body warming”, “soul satisfying” stew.  After selecting leeks and smoked pork shank as my flavor foundation I set off on a gathering of seasonal fruits and veggies. My aim was simple, tasty and available! Making soup this time of year is also an efficiency meal plan. I work long days and when it gets dark earlier it is harder to find the inspiration to cook elaborate meals. The sun low in the sky and the shorter days signals my hibernation tendencies and I quickly lose my stamina for dynamic layered meals. A one stop pot is the ticket for me.

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After reviewing several soup recipes I decided on a pumpkin base and found Red Kuri Squash at my local health food market.  Red Kuri is a full-flavored, sweet winter squash, much like a traditional pumpkin but with the most beautiful colored skin.  Like most squash it goes well with butter and fresh herbs, and is a  perfect ingredient for a variety of soups, stews and casseroles. You can also make cakes, breads, muffins, cookies and pies with its nutty-tasting flesh. For texture and protein I choose white beans. From there adding kale was a no-brainer, it adds color, dense flavor and a one-two-punch of serious nutrients.

This was my first attempt at this combination of flavors but it seemed intuitive and was backed up by my love of all the ingredients separately. The result: a hardy, flavor packed soup that doesn’t weigh you down. The smoked pork shank infiltrated every ingredient and my addition of cayenne pepper really took the warming factor to the next level – not too much, just a bit. I also snuck in a bit of nutmeg that really tipped the scales, making this soup diverse in flavor without really being able to put your finger on it. This soup would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dinner or served as a main dish with fresh bread.

White Bean, Red Kuri and Kale Soup

Prep Time: 1 hour + over night bean soaking

Cook Time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours

Total Time: 2 1/2 hours

Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 3 cups of cannellini, navy or white beans, soaked
  • 1 Smoked pork shank
  • 4 leeks
  •  2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bunches of kale, chopped
  • 1 medium sized pumpkin or winter squash, chopped
  • 7 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • black pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Start by placing 3 cups of dried white beans in a large bowl. Cover with water and soak overnight or for at least 4 hours. Pick out any beans that have floated to the surface and then drain.
  2. In a large soup pot start by adding chopped leeks, garlic and olive oil. Cook for several minutes over medium heat, and then add the wine. Simmer until the wine is reduced and leeks are soft.
  3. Add soaked beans and water to large soup pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat and add smoked pork shank, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Let simmer.
  4. While the beans are simmering, chop and add squash cubes, stir constantly as you add to blend well. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour.
  5. *Optional – add bits of chopped shank to give soup a meatier consistency if desired.
  6. Add chopped kale and let simmer for 1/2 hour
  7. Serve with a dollop of geek yogurt or other favorite grated dairy yumminess and a slice of delicious bread! (I served sprouted Rye bread – really good)