this time of year is fit for a cozy meal

It's starting to really get chilly in the city, so I couldn't imagine anything better than being a lounge kitty with some warm, hearty stew and a cup of hot tea.  But I wanted a fresher, healthier kind of stew - so I opted for all vegetables.  Even so, by using sweet potatoes, mushrooms, toothy beans, and hearty kale, this stew gets some real body.  

Winter Bean Stew
(serves 4)
1/2 C dried flageolet beans
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 onion, diced (1 C) 
 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced 
4 oz portobello mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 bay leaf 
4 cups chicken stock - preferably home made! (Also, vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian)
Freshly ground black pepper 
3 C kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
Kosher salt

Drain the beans overnight in water - drain well.   In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until golden.  Remove from pan.  Next, saute the mushrooms until golden, about 5 minutes, adding more olive oil if necessary.  When the mushrooms are ready, add in the onion and garlic mixture, sweet potatoes, bay leaf, and chicken stock - stir to combine.  

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer the soup, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 50 minutes.  Add in the kale, and cook another 5 minutes.  

Season with fresh pepper and salt if necessary.  Ladle into large soup bowls, and ejoy!

As an aside, I must admit - I had an unfair culinary advantage this time around.  I had some homemade turkey stock that I had made after Thanksgiving just hanging around in me freezer.  And it was made with a SMOKED and dry rubbed turkey carcass. Let me tell you, this made for some darn good winter soup - I had to go back for seconds!  Obviously, not everyone has random smoked turkey stock in their freezer, but it's clearly still delicious with chicken or vegetable stock.

But seriously - it's amazing how simple this soup is, both ingredient and cooking wise! Furthermore, even though there are just vegetables in the soup, it's super hearty - and it can even be kept fully vegetarian if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.


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