Two years ago I stepped off a little plane and onto the tarmac in the middle of a blizzard. The temperatures were below zero, the wind was cutting my face, and I could feel the snow freezing my feet despite the boots I had specifically chosen because they were my warmest. I immediately questioned my sanity and decision making.
You see I grew up in Hawaii and I had just moved to Colorado. I had just landed in a town I had never heard of until the week before; where I knew no one. All I knew was that I wanted to live in the mountains and learn to snowboard. Five days ago I had been on a beach in Maui when I got the call that I had been offered a job at Steamboat Resort. I turned to my friend and told her I didn’t know what to do, stay in Hawaii or move to Colorado?
“Quick without thinking Maui or Colorado?” She asked.
“Colorado” I blurted out as I grabbed my surfboard from the back of the truck.
I booked my ticket later that day and suddenly here I was dragging all my worldly belongings through the snow. I was realizing how unfortunate it was that my worldly belongings did not include snow clothes. That night I settled into my new home, which was essentially an old motel converted into employee housing for ski bums. There were bunk beds in each room and a male to female ration of 4:1. Luckily the place was full of the funnest friendliest people and the next few months ended up being the college experience I never had. I became quickly addicted to snowboarding, loved my job teaching toddlers how to ski, and became so besotted with the mountains I wondered how I ever lived without them.
The only drawback was that I was pretty accustomed to a diet of fresh tropical fruit, ripe avos, and salads, which I quickly realized was not going to work well in the frigid temperatures. Just looking at lettuce made me cold, not to mention the fact that it doesn’t grow in Colorado in the winter and it takes a ridiculous amount of fossil fuel to transport those delicate greens to the high Rockies.
Learning to eat locally and sustainably was quite a challenge in the middle of winter, not to mention the fact that I was living on a ski bum budget and shared a kitchen with about forty people, seriously. It was in those months that I fell in love with hearty soups and casserole style dishes made with canned foods and any winter vegetables I could get my hands on, such as kale. Thank goodness for kale.
It was a particularly cold week in February that this soup was born. It nourished me through many blizzards and winter sniffles. I worked with toddlers so my immune system was constantly on the defense, and this soup was an absolute life saver.
It was the same February that this new guy named Michael moved in down the hall from me. One night I made this soup in an attempt to impress him. He took a spoonful, pointed at the kale and asked very politely “Ummm what is this?” I guess kale didn’t make its way into his diet of fried chicken and pizza very often. Then he proceeded to eat his entire bowl and ask for seconds. Two years late he still polishes off every plate I put in front of him, no matter how much weird green stuff is on it.
This soup is always on rotation during the winter months, especially when one of us is feeling run down. It it truly a delightful nourishing and slightly spicy tomato broth full of immune boosting kale & protein packed cannellini beans. For me its not just a delicious healthy soup, it’s nourishment for the soul because with every slurp it’s a jolt of memory back to that fateful February when I fell in love in the sweetest little ski town.
This soup should be eaten with two slices of sourdough bread glued together with the sharpest cheddar cheese you can find, aka grilled cheese. Which low key might just be my favorite food.
Colorado Kale & White Bean Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- healthy pinch of salt
- 1 onion (diced)
- 5 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 can of cannelini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 small bunch of kale (roughly chopped, tough stems discarded)
- In a stock pot add olive oil, onions and salt and sautee on medium heat for 5 minutes until onions are slightly translucent.
- Add garlic and spices and continue to cook for a few minutes till fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, broth, and water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, add beans and kale and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
- Serve hot with grilled cheese!