In the winter with the holidays behind us its time to eat healthy and enjoy every bite. This bean soup with both kale and chard is perfect for a chilly winter night but you won’t regret it come bikini season. This meal is a hearty enough to keep everyone full but it’s so nice and light I would not think twice about serving it for a ladies lunch. I served my white bean soup with a little drizzle of good olive oil and a few shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese.
The red chard that I used had an added effect that I really loved; it gave a soft reddish gold color to the broth like I had added tomatoes or something. This recipe is a great way to used up those chard stems that I would have otherwise thrown away. Why not eat every bit of the veggies we bring home from the market? The only thing I may try next time I cook this soup is swapping out the plain orzo for barley, the earthy flavor of the barley would be great with the kale. If you do make that swap don’t forget that the barley has a much longer cooking time than the orzo.
Winter White Bean Chicken Soup
- 4-5 skinless chicken thighs
- 4 15 oz cans of chicken broth
- 3 medium onions
- 2 large carrots
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 5-8 stems of a red or other color Swiss chard
- 1 bunch kale removed from stems and cut into bite sized ribbons
- 1 tbsp of favorite Italian spice blend
- 1 can white beans like cannellini
- ¾ cup of orzo pasta or you could try barley or other grain
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Sear them in a Dutch oven over medium to high heat in olive oil until really well browned up. When you first place the chicken in the pan walk away from it for at least 5 minutes, then come back and test a piece if it pulls free with little resistance then flip the meat, if it is not easy to lift let it cook longer. Use the same method for the other side. Check the temp in the middle of your largest piece with a cooking thermometer the thighs are cooked when the internal temp reaches 165 degrees. Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.
Add the diced onion, carrots, and chard to the pan leaving the heat pretty high, use a tiny bit of chicken broth if need to help you loosen the yummy browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Keep the heat up on the veggies until they to have a tiny bit of brown on the edges, turn the heat down add the diced garlic and then let cook for about 2-3 more minutes before adding the rest of the broth and the white beans. Strip the meat off the chicken bones and into bite sized pieces, return the meat to the pot.
Allow the soup to simmer for as long as you would like from just 20 minutes to an hour or two. The longer it cooks the softer the beans will become and the thicker the soup will get. Right before you are going to serve turn the heat back up to a boil, add the orzo and the kale. Cook until the pasta is tender. Serve with a good olive oil for drizzling on top and some shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.