Wholesome Cook

Cabbage, Bean and Crispy Kale Soup

Kale is so en vogue right now! Everyone is talking about it, cooking it and eating it and now so can you. But why should you?

Because, in a nutshell, it is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale also contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties and it is said to help the body in a natural detocification process.

Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss. Along with other brassica vegetables (i.e. cabbage), kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells, and it is also a good source of carotenoids Wikipedia>.

Those are just some of kale’s health benefits, but what about the flavour and texture? We all know how dreadful spinach can taste…

There is a definite nuttiness to the leaves which remain meaty when steamed, but turn beautifully crisp when stir fired in butter or good quality oil. And that’s exactly how I chose to cook the leaves for the soup; because it would add a different texture to the soup balancing the softness of cabbage and beans already in the soup.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but I’m impartial to serving many a soups with a hunk of good sourdough or rye, and this soup is no different. However, instead of a fresh hunk, I chose to turn my dark rye sourdough into croutons. It always makes soup so much more fun!

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Cabbage, Bean and Crispy Kale Soup

The following recipe is vegan, but please feel free to use good quality (organic) chicken stock and cultured butter if you wish. Hard boiled eggs or shredded chickengo very well in this soup as well. Add extra stock if you'd like more broth. I used fresh bay leaves.
Servings: 4


For the Cabbage, Bean and Crispy Kale Soup:

  • 1/4 medium green cabbage shredded
  • 1 leek white part only, sliced
  • 4-5 cups vegetable stock
  • 440 g (1 can) butter beans drained
  • 4 whole kale leaves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 4 dried
  • 4 tsp olive oil or butter

For the croutons:

  • 4 slices sourdough, cut into 1cm squares (I used rye)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter


To make the soup:

  • Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  • Add shredded cabbage and leeks. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage has wilted and reduced volume by half.
  • Add stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the cabbage has softened.
  • Add canned beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.

To perpare the kale:

  • Wash leaves and stems under cold running water, shake off excess water. Chop across the leaves into 1cm wide ribbons.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of cooking oil in a medium frypan over medium heat. Add kale and cook, stirring, until wilted and becoming crisp.
  • Turn off the heat and leave until serving.

To make the croutons:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in another fry pan over medium high heat.
  • Add bread squares and cook, stirring, until the croutons are lightly browned and crisp.

To serve:

  • Divide soup between serving bowls.
  • Top with crispy kale and serve croutons on the side. Pop a few croutons into the soup at a time so that they can retain their crunch in every bite.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholesomecook or tag #wholesomecook



Anne S May 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

This looks so hearty for a vegan soup! I’ve never heard of kale but having read your post I think we willbecome best friends.

thelifeshemade May 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I am also loving kale at the moment, but I will have to try this crispy version next time. I made a chicken soup earlier in the week with lots of kale gently wilted through it. I love that it holds its shape (unlike spinach) and the squeaky texture it has.

cookingrookie May 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Gorgeous presentation! The soup looks so delicious and healthy! And I love those wooden bowls :-)

saffronandhoney May 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Kale is wonderful and so is this soup!

Eha May 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Looks wonderful in those earthen bowls. As my semi-rural supermarkets here just S of Sydney refuse to stock kale and quite a few other leafy vegetables [‘people don’t like stuff like that, ma’am’ :( !] will have to make do with spinach [I love it!], bok choi or similar – methinks it’ll still be a great winter soup with all the health benefits you enumerate

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook May 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

That’s sad! Have you thought of growing your own? Iceberg lttuce goes well in the soup also!

Eha May 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Yes, and have been quite successful: but eat more than I grow :) ! Thanks for the iceberg lettuce tip: I don’t use it as a salad, but it might work in the soup!!

Just A Smidgen May 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Well, now this is a bowl full of goodness! I love softening greens by frying.. this soup with croutons would hit the spot right about now!

Nami | Just One Cookbook May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Just bought kale today and I’m inspired with your recipe! I am crossing my fingers that my kids will enjoy this veggie… Your soup looks beautiful and delicious~~~! Yes, as always, Martyna!

rsmacaalay May 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm

That looks like a very healthy soup, I need to have something like this more

Maureen (@OrgasmicChef) May 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Your kale looks so different from what we get up here. I swear you could wear this stuff as a skirt and nobody would bat an eyelash.

That’s a beautiful soup! Loving your photos every time I visit.

Martyna @ Wholesome Cook May 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Thanks Maureen, I used a particular type of Kale for my dish, being purple kale or Tuscan Kale. But I’m sure regular Kale would go just as well in this dish.

frugalfeeding May 24, 2012 at 2:22 am

IT is indeed, beautiful photographs. Those bowls are so wonderful. Kale is brilliant isn’t it? I love the way you’ve served it here.

Courtney May 24, 2012 at 7:50 am

You may have actually talked me into trying Kale…I just have horrible visions of wilted spinach, but I think I can handle it the way you suggest.

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide May 24, 2012 at 9:43 am

That kale is beautiful and so is the soup.

Sissi May 25, 2012 at 2:37 am

This soup looks fabulous! I still remember my awful experience with kale: it was organic and full of insects even several washings in vinegared water wouldn’t remove… I ended up throwing the whole lot into the bin. Your soup looks so good, I think I might try once more when kale is in season here.

Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy May 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

This is perfect and thank you for the kale cooking tips! All this time I have been boiling it up with the rest of the veggies for soup. Now I know better!

Gourmantine May 26, 2012 at 8:25 am

Your right, kale is so popular right now, I think kale chips especially, but there is a good reason behind it, as it is so versatile! Thanks for the cooking tips. Have a nice weekend :)

Ms. Parkers June 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Thank you for these recipes! All look delicious. Compared to spinach, I like kale better. I like it in smoothies, though. But I think remember I read somewhere that says both spinach and kale are rich in vitamin K2, aren’t they?

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