Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you … get antioxidants, protein, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, folate, B vitamins, and a wide range of soluble and insoluble fiber and essential fatty acids!
Not much of a rhyme but an amazing food with so many nutrients that nutritionists call beans an unsung superfood. These complex carbohydrates have so many health benefits, like helping keep blood sugar stable and lowering cholesterol.
It’s recommended we enjoy at least three servings of legumes and/or beans weekly. To learn more about the nutrients, health benefits, soaking options, and tips for reducing the musical effects of beans, check out this article from North Dakota State University.
If you’re ready to get cooking, enjoy this Mediterranean Soup/Stew from “Great Food, Great Medicine, a Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle Guide.” Beans paired with dark leafy greens, which are also teeming with nutrients and antioxidants, makes a delicious superfood soup!
How to Make Greens & Beans Mediterranean Soup/Stew
Makes about 4 quarts, serves 6-8
- 2 pounds greens – kale, collards, Swiss chard, beet greens, spinach, etc.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions in ¼ -inch dice (4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons freshly crushed garlic
- *Optional: ½ pound of fresh sausage or 8 ounces chopped mushrooms
- 8 cups (2 quarts) water or chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon of salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups cooked beans or 2 15 oz. cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or small white beans, drained
Optional topping: crumbled feta or freshly ground Parmesan cheese
- Clean and prepare greens. (Remove tough stems.) Chop leaves into bite-sized pieces – small pieces are easier to eat. If using chard or beet greens, slice stems into ¼ or 1/2 -inch pieces and set aside.
- Heat oil in a heavy wide-bottomed pot (6-8 quart) over medium high heat. Add diced onions and 1 teaspoon of the salt. If using chard or beet greens, add them. Sauté for about 15 minutes until tender.
- Stir in garlic, pepper, sausage or mushrooms. Sauté until sausage until browned and thoroughly crumbled. Mushrooms only need a brief sauté.
- Add chicken broth or water, remaining salt, pepper, and drained beans. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Add chopped greens. Don’t worry if they are initially well above the level of liquid – they will cook down quickly. Reduce heat to low and cook gently until the greens are tender. Cooking times for geens vary. Add kale or collard greens about an hour before serving. Add chard, beet greens, blanched kale or collards about 30 minutes before serving. Add spinach the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- The addition of a small amount of sausage gives the soup a satisfying dimension. If you don’t use sausage, it’s important to serve this soup it with a side of crumbled feta cheese or freshly grated parmesan cheese for that added dimension.
- A 16-ounce bag of frozen chopped spinach can replace a pound of fresh greens. Add it about 15 minutes before the soup is done.
- Blanching the greens briefly, especially ones with more exuberant leaves like curly kale, makes a large amount of sturdy greens more manageable to chop. It also allows you to add greens in the last half hour, which helps them retain their color.
- Large, white cannellini beans are traditional, but the author prefers small white beans or chickpeas.
- If you slow-cook the beans overnight, you can replace some of the stock with the bean-cooking liquid. (If you added salt to the beans, add less in Step 4.)
- When using canned beans, two 15-ounce cans equal about 3 cups of drained beans.