Kale & White Bean Soup

Last night, when I got home from an all-day planning meeting (for our National Institute for Teaching and Learning (aka the TLNI), I had eaten too much sugar (minted malt balls and delicious ice-cream were available in the family room of the retreat center where we had been meeting), and I was still intellectually buzzing from the energy of exchanging ideas all day with my brilliant planning/thought partners.

Taking Birdie-dog for a long walk felt good, but I was still compulsively checking e-mail and texting work colleagues to see if they were available to talk about the instructional challenges practitioners face when working on the Z degree.  If you don’t click on the link . . . the “Z” stands for zero– as in zero cost textbooks to remove yet another cost barrier students face when accessing higher education.

While the ethics of creating zero-cost instructional materials is a no-brainer, nothing gets me excited like working on the aspects of open projects that involve inquiries into student learning (as opposed to the more technical stuff like copyright and creative commons licensing and what the eLearning folks call “versioning,” which, while I like to geek out on that stuff too (who knew copyright in educational contexts would be so damn fascinating?) . . . tends to dominate the implementation conversation, when I’m more interested in how open educational resources might deepen student learning AND liberate faculty members from the tyranny of textbooks).

See?  I’m so excited that it makes me create the kind of recursive sentences structures that involve multiple parentheses. I’m iterative, baby.

To relax, I knew I had to get into the kitchen.  I have been wanting to make a white bean and mushroom soup that I discovered years ago when I was doing the Clean Program Elimination diet, and I bought the supplies last Sunday and then didn’t have a second to do anything this week culinary.  So I poured a glass of red wine, turned on Law and Order SVU, and started chopping onions and slicing mushrooms.

This combination, this magic ritual, always calms me down, and by the time I was sipping hot, soothing soup from a mug in bed, my body was ready to stop denying my cumulative exhaustion (work is exhilarating, but intense, right now).

We have kale in the fridge that needs to be used up, and my body has been craving nutritional yeast, so I fell asleep pleasurably meditating on making a different version of the soup using the genius recipe from Simply Quinoa as a template– a kale & white bean soup that I would dust with nutritional yeast.


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 cups shredded kale
  • ribs from the kale, rough chopped
  • 1 small red onion, rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups stock (vegetable or chicken, your choice)
  • 1 T dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a soup pot. Add onion and garlic, cooking until the onions are translucent and just starting to brown.
  2. Add the spices, chili flakes, and do a first season with salt and pepper.  Stir and let flavors meld for a few minutes.
  3. Add the white beans and the kale ribs.  Stir to ensure the kale ribs begin to soften.  Let cook for 3 – 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broth and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Add the kale leaves, stirring them in.  Be sure to enjoy their color transformation to bright green in the heat.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer.  I recommend about 20 minutes.
  7. When ready to serve, transfer the soup (in batches, if necessary) to a blender.  Follow the safety instructions recommended by your model, as hot soup expands and, in addition to being a HUGE mess, can seriously harm you.  Pulse until you have a consistency that appeals to you visually.
  8. Taste for seasonings.  I like this advice from 101 Cookbooks of adding small amounts of salt until the flavor of the soup “pops.”  That’s a thing– try it!

To Serve
Here are a few ideas for garnishing . . .

  • a first drizzle of olive oil and then a second of either a squeeze of lemon or a dash of some good vinegar (apple cider, sherry, etc.);
  • a healthy sprinkling of nutritional yeast (my body is craving that right now) or smoked paprika;
  • sliced green onions and sliced almonds, toasted.

If you make either soup, I’d love to hear.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

How do YOU relax when you can’t fall asleep because you’re thinking about the potential transformative impacts of open educational resources on student learning and teacher agency?