The Quarantine continues: Day 4 : BEANS AND GREENS

Bean and greens are without a doubt one of the Optimal Kitchen’s favorite combos when it comes to feeding ourselves well.  This combination of fiber rich and protein packed beans paired with vitamin and mineral rich dark leafy greens gives the body everything it needs to thrive.  What is even better is beans are cheap and versatile and greens are just as varied and are one of the simplest things to grow if gardening is your thing.  You don’t need to take my word for it, cultures all around the globe have been pairing leafy greens with legumes for thousands of years.  I always like to look back at what humanity has been eating over the long term to help find clues as to what foods are best for us today.

You can do just about anything with beans and greens, have it as a side dish for grilled fish or meat or tossed with pasta or rice for a complete meal.  But one of my favorite ways to enjoy this power packed combination is in soups. This recipe is a classic Italian take on a beans and greens soup

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WHITE BEAN AND ESCAROLE

2 tbs. Olive Oil

1 onion diced

3 carrots diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

¼ cup basil threads

1 head of escarole washed and cut into small strips

1 can white kidney beans, rinsed

1 quart chicken or vegetable Stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium/high heat sauté the onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until translucent

  2. Add escarole and then garlic and sauté another minute or 2

  3. Add stock that is already heated and toss in kidney beans

  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes

  5. Add basil and season to taste                                       

At the Optimal Kitchen we don’t ever want you running out to the store because you don’t have one of the ingredients in our recipes, we know there is always a substitute so this chart is to help you use whatever you have on hand to create your own fantastic beans and greens soup. You can make several variations of this basic recipe by simply

adding some pasta or chicken sausages to make it a bit heartier, or instead use Kale and Red Beans or Swiss Chard and Black Beans, you can even use Chinese cabbage and Edamame with some fresh ginger, whatever sounds good to you. Always add some freshly chopped herbs like basil, parsley, oregano or cilantro at the end, not only do they add great flavor but these leafy green herbs are full of the same vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals as vegetables. Look at the chart below and simply choose an item from each column to make your own creation.

BEANS

GREENS

BROTH

EXTRAS

White Beans

Escarole

Chix Stock

Herbs

Red Beans

Kale

Vegetable Stock

Potatoes

Black Beans

Swiss Chard

DicedTomatoes/Stock

Cooked Pasta

Edamame

Napa Cabbage

Ginger Soy Stock

Rice

Soup has a significant therapeutic value that goes beyond simply the ingredients. There is a comfort and warmth that soup provides the body that is simply unmatched by any other foods. Soups are nourishing to the body and soul but even better as prices rise on produce as they inevitably do every winter, learning to make delicious homemade soups will ensure you not only eat all your veggies this winter season but you won’t break the bank while doing it.

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