Whenever I’m craving comfort food, I make a big pot of vegan kale soup. Growing up, it was a cure-all remedy in our house. Winter wind just a little too cold? Make the soup. Schoolyard bullying got you down? Mom made the soup. It was also our food of celebration. When my grandma came into town she’d make the soup, her version just ever so slightly different than my mom’s. We’d sit together in the kitchen peeling the skins from soaked lima beans (the secret ingredient to our broth), my grandma’s knobby arthritic fingers working faster than anyone else’s. The pot would simmer on the stove for hours, filling the house with its spicy, savory aroma, until finally it was ready. My aunt and cousin would come over, and we’d celebrate being all together, filling and refilling our bowls with our family’s ambrosia. These days, I eat a plant-based diet. At first, that was big cause for alarm with my mom, who was worried that she wouldn’t be able to ply me with bowls of her kale soup when I was home for visits. Luckily, we found a way to make a tasty vegan version that’s still just as comforting.
Traditionally, the kale soup my family makes contains Portuguese chouriço (pronounced “cherise” in my family’s southern Massachusetts dialect). It’s what makes a soup with such humble ingredients come to life. So, when recreating the soup sans sausage, I decided to add all of the ingredients that give chouriço its red color and garlicky, salty flavor to the broth itself. The result is a pot of goodness that tastes just like home, even if it is devoid of meat. Lima beans are the key to giving the broth extra body. You soak them overnight, then remove the skins. It might sound finicky but it’s really quite easy. Once your beans are peeled, you’re ready to go!
Vegan Kale, Potato, and Lima Bean Soup
From Justina Huddleston, Brit + Co
(Makes 6-8 portions)
This is an Old-World soup, meaning the kale and cabbage are cooked more than you might be used to. They’re supposed to be very soft in the final dish, almost melting in your mouth. This kale soup is closer to the chunky caldo verde of the Azores than the more broken-down version found on mainland Portugal.
- 1/2 pound lima beans, soaked overnight and peels removed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 Tablespoon yellow miso
- 2 (32-ounce) containers low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (16-ounce) bag of kale
- 1/2 cabbage, cut into chunks
- 3 large yellow wax potatoes, cubed
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 vegan sausages, cut into coins, preferably Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausage
- salt, to taste
- bread, for serving
- Be sure to soak dried lima beans overnight, then remove skins.
- Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large soup pot. Sauté garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, and garlic powder over medium heat until fragrant, being careful not to let the paprika burn. Deglaze the pan with white wine and let simmer for about one minute to let the alcohol taste cook off. Add miso, vegetable broth, salt, bay leaves, and peeled, soaked lima beans to the pot. Top the pot off with enough water so that the pot is 3/4 full. Simmer until the lima beans are tender, for about one hour.
- Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the lima beans and broth together.
- Top the pot off with enough water so it’s 3/4 full. Add the kale and cabbage to the pot. Simmer until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes more. Add the Tabasco, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and vegan sausages to the pot. Taste the broth and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Simmer for about five minutes, then serve with some crusty bread on the side.
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(Photos via Justina Huddleston / Brit + Co)