Ruby’s Light Tuscan White Bean And Kale Soup

½ lb. (1 ¼ cups) small white beans (Cannellini) or 2 -15oz.cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic pressed or minced
1 cup celery, diced
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 cups fresh kale, washed, stemmed and chopped
8 cups chicken stock or 8 cups water mixed with 2 tablespoons chicken soup base
4-oz lean proscuitto ham about 1 cup, chopped
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. If using dry beans, sort and rinse beans in large pot. Cover with 8 cups cold water, stir and let stand 8 hours or overnight.

2. Lightly spray large stockpot with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium high for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium/ medium low and add garlic, onion, celery, black pepper and bay leaf and sauté vegetables until onions look clear, approximately 5 minutes. (If vegetables begin to dry out or stick add a little wine or water to pan.)

3. Add chicken stock or water and chicken soup base to pot. Add soaked beans if using and bring to boil, skim top, reduce heat to simmer and cook gently, partly covered for 1½ hours or until beans become soft and tender. If using canned beans bring stock to boil reduce heat to simmer and add bean with kale in step 4.

4. Add chopped kale and canned beans if using and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove two cups soup from pot and puree. Add pureed soup back to pot, stir in chopped proscuitto, cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, stir in olive oil and remove from heat and serve alone or with Rosemary Asiago Crostini

Yield: Six 2-cup servings each at approximately 205 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 0.8 gram saturated fat; 13 milligrams cholesterol; 7 grams dietary fiber; 16.8 grams protein; 1200 milligrams sodium

Rosemary Asiago Crostini
1 small sourdough or plain baguette sliced into ¼ -inch thick slices
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh grated Asiago cheese
¼ cup fresh minced or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1. Slice baguette into ¼ – inch thick slices and place on a baking sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with 1-teaspoon cheese and a bit of rosemary 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon.

2. Bake at 375 degrees until golden, about ten minutes.

Crostini can be made in advance or when the soup is cooking.

Yield: 10 to 12 Crostini each at approximately 45 calories; 1.2 grams fat; 0.5 gram saturated fat; 1 milligram cholesterol; 7.4 grams carbohydrate; 0.4 gram dietary fiber; 1.5 grams protein; 85 milligrams sodium

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