Seasonal recipe No 24 – Cavolo nero (kale) soup Ⓥ

From Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ River Café Cook Book Easy. They add this note, ‘All bean soups are made more delicious with a generous addition of the spicy-flavoured newly pressed olive oil poured over each serving. Tuscan olive oil is pressed at the end of October, which is also when the frosty weather starts and cavolo nero is ready to be picked.’

Serves: a generous 4

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

500g cavolo nero
4 garlic cloves
2 red onions
4 carrots
1 celery head
1 dried chilli (or good pinch of dried chilli flakes)
400g tin borlotti beans
extra virgin olive oil (see note above)
½ tsp fennel seeds
200g tin tomatoes
500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
¼ sourdough loaf

Peel the garlic, onion and carrots. Roughly chop 3 garlic cloves, the onion, pale celery heart and carrots. Crumble the chilli. Drain and rinse the beans.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan, add the onion, celery and carrot and cook gently until soft. Add the fennel seeds, chilli and garlic and stir, then add the tomatoes, chopping them as they cook. Season and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and stock, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Discard the stalks from the cavolo nero and boil the leaves in salted water for 5 minutes, drain and chop. Keep 4 tbsp of the water. Add the water and cavolo to the soup. Stir and season.

Cut the bread into 1.5cm slices. Toast on both sides, then rub with the remaining garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Break up the toast and divide between the soup bowls. Spoon over the soup and serve with more olive oil.

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