With the weather turning warmer (yay!), I’ve been trying to sneak a few final winter soups into our dinner menu before we switch to salads and grill-outs. This recipe is one of our personal favorites. It’s bursting with a round, rich garlic flavor, and is filled with delicious and (mostly) healthy ingredients like kale (yay superfood!), white beans, bacon, and parmesan cheese. Yum.
Let’s take a poll: How many of you LOVE garlic? Like, which category do you fit into?
- It has a rather strong odor to it. But I like garlic bread…?
- Oh, is that what makes (insert food) so delicous? Huh. Cool.
- Recipe calls for 1 clove? Mmm!! Whoops, how did 2 of them end up in the pot?!
- Recipe only calls for 1 CLOVE?! That’s absurd! Try one BULB.
In this house, we LOVE garlic. Like, to the extent that we go through 1-2 of the huge minced garlic jars from Costco every year. Just the 2 of us. Please tell me we’re not the only ones…
But – have you ever tried ROASTED GARLIC?! Life. Changer. Seriously. The first time I made it, it took all my self-restraint to not consume the entire bulb right there, fresh out of the oven, before it ever made it into the soup.
Roasting garlic is a piece of cake. Takes about 60 seconds of prep, ~45 minutes in the oven, and voila! A soft garlic cream you can spread on bread, throw into a soup, season cooked veggies…you name it. The roasting softens the flavor and brings out more depth and richness to it. It’s what makes this soup THE most flavorful soup I’ve ever made. Flavorful, without being overly in-your-face garlicky. Which may seem surprising, once you look at how much garlic goes into this soup! But truly – roasting it does just the trick. Captures all the flavor, takes out the “in your face” assault. Brilliant.
Oh – and let us not forget the many virtues of garlic. Proven benefits include promoting heart health, boosting your immune system, skin benefits, and even cancer-fighting properties. Some of these may be diminished by roasting it to death in the oven, but I assure you it’s worth it. Plus, you throw some additional raw minced garlic into the soup (cause why not?) – so we’re covered, right?
While garlic is the star of this soup, it has a strong supporting cast of characters. It’s chock-full of healthy vegetables, that at first glance may make it seem like your average run-of-the-mill vegetable soup, but don’t be fooled. There are some secret ingredients that transform this into a “Not Your Mama’s Vegetable Soup” recipe.
Kale, the ever-trendy super-food, plays a large role. Toss it in at the end and cook it just long enough to soak up some of that delicious flavor. It adds tons of nutrients and a nice texture. I prefer to chop my kale quite small so I don’t end up with a spoonful mounded with a hunk of kale and nothing else.
And bacon. God bless bacon. What isn’t better with bacon?
Finish the soup off with a healthy serving of parmesan cheese, and I promise you will have one of the most naturally-flavorful soups you can imagine. A (mostly) vegetable soup that doesn’t taste anything like any vegetable soup you’ve ever had.
*Photos include No-Knead Crusty Artisan Bread
- 1 head of garlic
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 8-10 slices of bacon, cooked and diced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
- 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 4-8 ounces of kale, chopped
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice off the top of the garlic, exposing each of the individual cloves. Place garlic head on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over the head to cover the exposed tops, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil, then place directly on the oven rack. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until garlic is soft to the touch and a deeper golden color. Set aside to cool.
- Once garlic has cooled, use your fingers to squeeze the soft garlic from each individual clove into a bowl. Using a fork, mash it until it reaches a uniform paste. Set aside.
- Cook and dice your bacon. Set aside.
- Drizzle ~1 T olive oil into a large pot (emphasis on the "large". You'll thank me for it when you get to the kale step!), and heat over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, minced garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes, and saute for ~10 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.
- Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, beans, garlic puree, and bacon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in your chopped kale, and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, until you've reached your desired level of doneness for the kale.
- Add parmesan and stir to combine.
- Serve with additional parmesan.