I’ve been wanting to make this soup for a really long time, so when I saw that kale was showing up at the market, I added it to my menu. It takes a pretty long time to make, so I decided to make it on a Sunday and serve in on Monday. On Sunday morning I woke up early, soaked the beans, and went to work. When I came home a little before six, I went shopping for all the produce needed: celery, carrots, onions, garlic, basil, and kale. There was no kale at the fruit store, they ran out and are getting more tomorrow. There was no kale at the supermarket, either. They also ran out. I already soaked the beans, so I had to improvise on the soup. It came out delicious, anyway.

I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten‘s, found in Barefoot Contessa at Home. I’m happy there were people watching football at my house on Sunday to be my taste testers. This made a BIG pot of soup, and there was no way two people were going to finish it in a week.

This recipe is completely pareve! You can make it meat by using chicken stock and adding some smoked turkey with the onions. If I made it in a dairy pot, I might have even served it with some shaved parmesan.


  • 1/2 pound dried great northern beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 carrots, chopped (I used small carrots, so I chopped 5. If they are big, you may only have to use 3. Aim for 1 cup.)
  • 3 stalks of celery (1 cup)
  • 10 small cloves of garlic – 1 chopped, the rest smashed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 – 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 4 cups stock (I used chicken-less chicken stock, not homemade)
  • 4 cups sourdough bread cubes (yes, I used homemade!)
  • Olive oil, for serving
  • Flaky salt, for serving


1. Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water. Boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for one hour. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and simmer for another 15 minutes. The beans should be tender. Allow them to cool in their liquid.

2. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large stock pot (I used my dutch oven, of course!). Chop the onions and add them to the pot. Heat over medium-low for 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking, chop the carrots and celery. Smash the garlic. Add them along with 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low for another 10 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, the basil, and the spinach. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.

3. Drain the beans over a bowl or measuring cup to reserve the cooking liquid. I had about 6 cups of liquid left. Puree half the beans with about 2 cups of liquid in a food processor. Add to the soup. Add the whole beans to the soup.

4. Measure the cooking liquid in a large measuring cup and add enough stock to make 8 cups. I needed one box of no-chicken chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

5. Cube the bread and add it to the soup. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve sprinkled with olive oil and some sea salt.

This soup was really a delicious and pretty easy to make. Next time, I definitely want to add kale! Ina says it adds flavor and texture to the soup. It probably adds lots of nutrients, too. The spinach was okay, and probably would have been better if I had more (Ina’s recipe calls for 4 cups of kale!), but that was all I had in the fridge. If you try the recipe with the 4 cups of kale before I do, let me know how it goes!