I apologize for the lack of posts the past couple of weeks. It has been two of the scariest weeks of my life. My Dad suffered near fatal cardiac arrest, and through a truly miraculous series of events he survived. Because of the quick thinking and presence of mind of our step mom, the kindness and heroism of complete strangers, and some incomprehensible luck, he survived the episode. More on that story at a later time. Today Dad is doing extremely well and is recovering from open heart surgery.
I've been working on this recipe for the past few days. I wanted to create something for him to eat that would combine the most nourishing and healing foods. So, I researched what those foods are and threw them all into one soup!
From what I've been reading, it is important for post operative patients to eat foods high in vitamin C, glutamine, and fiber. Additionally, it is especially important for post-op heart patients to eat foods that are low in sodium.
In the spirit of healthy & delicious delights, this curried cauliflower soup would also be great to make, but it's a bit more involved than this one. What we have here is a healthy and healing tomato, white bean, and kale soup recipe that this is not only nourishing, but is also a cinch to put together. The last thing a care giver needs is to attempt to tackle a complicated recipe.
According to recent research, tomatoes attack free radicals, reduce inflammation and cholesterol, improve immune function, and prevent blood from clotting. Plus, tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, so they were definitely in.
Beans are a good source of glutamine, an important amino acid. Kale is full of fiber and nutrients, and like other dark leafy greens is super nutritious. Although I added the walnuts to the top of the soup originally for health reasons, it turned out they added a nice touch of texture and flavor. And you're going to want to add anything that enhances the flavor if you're restricting your sodium intake!
Without further ado, I present you:
Healthy and Healing Tomato, White Bean, and Kale Soup
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 32oz box of organic vegetable broth (I like Pacific the best because I recognize all the ingredients used - no weird unpronounceable stuff added)
- 1 box of organic Cannellini beans - no salt added (Whole Foods carries organic beans packed in a box, if you can't find those then the next best alternative are Eden Organic canned Cannellini beans, just make sure you find some without added salt!)
- 1 28oz can of Eden Organic diced tomatoes, no salt added unpeeled
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 bunch of kale (I used red, but feel free to use whatever variety you like best), stems removed and leaves cut into strips
- 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- raw walnuts
- a low sodium salt alternative like organic Kelp granules
- some flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel saute pan over medium heat (if you're not using a crock pot to finish the soup, then begin this step with a large stainless steel soup pot) Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes. Add your garlic to the hot pan and cook for another minute or so. Now add the kale leaves and cover the pan/pot with a lid. Turn down the heat to medium low and let the kale cook down for just a couple of minutes.
If using a crock pot, add the vegetable broth, rinsed and drained beans, tomatoes, diced red bell pepper, thyme leaves, a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, 1 cup of water, and hot pan of onions, garlic, and kale to the crock pot. Turn your crock pot on to a low setting and let simmer for several hours.
If you're making this in a soup pot then add the vegetable broth, rinsed and drained beans, tomatoes, diced red bell pepper, thyme leaves, a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of water to the onions, garlic, and kale already on the stove. Allow soup to simmer, covered, on a low setting for at least 20 minutes, or until the kale has cooked down a bit more.
Serve the soup topped generously with raw walnuts and a little low sodium salt alternative. If you're not limiting your sodium then you're going to want to add some salt for sure.
I love you so much, Dad!! Get well soon!
Photo by Liz Banfield of Liz Banfield Photography