Rustic Italian Soup
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans, picked through and rinsed
- 1 (2- to 3-inch) piece kombu (a sea vegetable, available in Asian and health food grocery stores or online)
- 12 cups Vegetable Stock or water
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 6 large cloves garlic
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place beans and kombu in a heavy stockpot. Add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Reserve the kombu.
Return the soaked beans and kombu to the same pot. Add stock or water. Cover and bring to a simmer over high heat. Skim foam that rises to the top. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are tender. Discard the kombu.
Blend 2 cups of the bean soup, tomato paste and garlic in a blender until smooth. Gradually stir the bean puree into the remaining bean soup. Add the kale, sage, 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Cover and bring the soup to a simmer over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the kale is very tender and the flavors blend.
Stir the lemon juice into the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle olive oil over each portion and serve.
The soup will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated. To rewarm, bring the soup to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.