Food from the Garden: Jacob's Cattle Bean, Kale and Chèvre Soup

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If you live in an area where winter drags on, this is a good soup to bring some heart to cold nights. It is rich and flavorful, one of those soups that makes a great meal when company comes, and is even better at lunch the second day. I never would have paired kale and bell peppers, but they are fast friends in this soup. The heavy cream and goat cheese might not be for everyone; I ended up using 8 oz. of chèvre instead of the recommended 12, but perhaps you're made of stronger stuff than I. Either way, it is delicious.

Thanks to the chefs and farmers at Quillisascut Farm, School of the Domestic Arts in Rice, OR for this recipe. It's from their book, the publishing information for which is found below.

Notes from the chefs: "The goat cheese adds a delicious tang to this comforting soup. The heavy cream binds the beans together and makes the soup thicker, so resist the urge to substitute whole milk or half-and-half. Because of the high fat content, this soup freezes well. Note: Canned beans are not a suitable substitute as the beans make their own stock and sauce."

Makes 8 servings

  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) Jacob's Cattle beans or other white beans, rinse and soak overnight (3
  • parts water to 1 part beans, soaking water reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1½ cup tomato purée
  • 1 cup chopped preserved roasted red peppers (store-bought is fine)
  • 1 bunch black kale (or other kale), about 8 to 10 leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1½ cups (about three-quarter pound) soft goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt

    Put the beans and soaking water in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and skim foam from the beans. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add the salt (the water should taste lightly of salt). Cook about 1 hour, until the beans are soft in texture and creamy in flavor.

    Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the carrot, celery, yellow onion and garlic, until the mixture is soft but not brown. Stir in the tomato purée, red peppers and black kale. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes and add salt to taste.

    When the beans have finished cooking, stir in the vegetable mixture, bay leaves, thyme and chili flakes. Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the heavy cream, goat cheese and black pepper. Cook for 15 minutes more, then season to taste with salt.

    Variations: In summertime use fresh tomatoes, peppers, and thyme. For a lighter minestrone-style soup, leave out the heavy cream and goat cheese.

    -- Recipe excerpted from Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School for the Domestic Arts by Shannon Borg and Lora Lea Mistery with recipes from Karen Jurgensen and photography by Harley Soltes (Skipstone)

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