White Bean and Kale Soup

It was cool and cloudy this week — a glimmer of wet weather relief for California.  I was inspired by the weather and the abundance of produce at this year’s National Heirloom Expo to make this very simple soup.

White Bean and Kale Soup

White Bean and Kale Soup

It’s a remarkably savory vegan soup, made with cannellini beans, garlic, and deep green kale.  Top with your best olive oil to heighten the flavors.  Enjoy!

White Bean and Kale Soup

6 oz dry cannellini beans (or two cans prepared beans, drained)
3 TB olive oil, plus more for drizzling
one large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunched lacinato or tuscan kale, chopped
sea salt to taste
black pepper, fine ground, to taste
a handful of dry pasta (optional)

If you are using dried beans, begin by soaking beans for 6 – 8 hours, or overnight.  Cover with at least 2 inches of water in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil, then simmer until almost tender.

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onion.  Sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic, kale, water, beans, and about 2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a simmer, and cook – covered – for about 45 minutes.  Add the dry pasta, then simmer for another 15 minutes or until tender.  Add some pepper to taste, then adjust salt to taste.  Ladle into bowls and drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil.


Lemon Olive Oil Sponge Cake

Here’s a twist on an easy to make sponge cake for the olive oil lover — a light, lemon scented sponge cake with the fruity, savory flavor of good extra virgin olive oil.

Lemon Olive Oil Sponge Cake

Lemon Olive Oil Sponge Cake

The key to the texture of this sophisticated cake is to beat the eggs until very fluffy, then stabilize them with sugar.  Whisk in the oil and other ingredients and bake this cake to spongy perfection.  I served mine with sweetened, lemon scented, whipped creme fraiche and fresh blueberries for an irresistible combination.  Enjoy!

Lemon Olive Oil Sponge Cake
(serves 8)

4 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (2 oz) fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest of one lemon, fine mince
1 cup (5 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Whipped lemon creme fraiche:
1 cup creme fraiche
3 TB sugar
zest of one lemon
1 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the cake:  Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a 9 inch spring form pan.

Whisk together the flour, sea salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until very light and tripled in volume.  While the beater is still running, on low, add the sugar.  Turn the beater up to high and continue to whip the egg/sugar mixture until smooth, very fluffy, and glossy.  Turn mixer to lowest speed and add the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, and flour mixture.  Blend until combined.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake springs back gently when a finger is pressed into the center of the cake.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then release the spring form and cool completely.

Prepare the whipped creme fraiche by combining the creme fraiche, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Whip until soft peaks form and the texture is lightened.  Serve with cake and fresh berries.