Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
3 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 large bunch of kale (about 6 cups washed, trimmed of the center stem, and cut into 2 inch strips)
1 tablespoon dried sage (1/4 cup chopped fresh sage)
3 cups beans (rinse well if using canned)
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
6 teaspoons freshly grated Romano cheese

Directions

1. Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat.
2. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften.
3. Add garlic, and cook until that softens, also, about 7 minutes.
4. Add the chopped squash, and cook for five minutes.
5. Add the red pepper, and toss it in the vegetables mixture.
6. Add broth.
7. Cover and cook until the squash is tender.
8. Add the kale and sage to the stew, and cook until kale is tender, about 10 minutes.
9. Add the beans, and olives, and heat through.
10. Season with salt and pepper.
11. Serve hot with freshly grated cheese on top.

Recipe courtesy of Heather Atwood, 2012.

This soup, or rather a stew, answers everything about the week after a holiday: half the ingredients are probably still in your pantry - kale, butternut squash, and beans. Add a bit of garlic, Kalamata olives, and a healthy grating of fresh Romano cheese transforms these leftovers while sailing your taste buds to the Mediterranean.

After the holiday line-up of cream and sugar-festooned cuisine, most want the clichéd “clean, healthy food.” And, to negate the attentiveness required for holiday culinary masterpieces, most people also want food that doesn't require vast amounts attention. This dish answers that desire for more free time: from start to finish, this dish can be ready to be served in 30 minutes.

If over-doing it on everything this holiday season has you truly penitent, this recipe is the perfect solution: this stew is also vegetarian, even vegan if you omit the cheese. Giving fresh taste and packed with nutrition, this recipe for Vegetarian Kale Stew won't have you straying too far outside of your culinary comfort-zone.

I'm going to make a really delicious kale soup. Some people think of kale soup as being a boring vegetarian dish. This is vegetarian. But it is not boring at all.

I have a pot warming here. I'm going to add about a quarter of a cup of olive oil to the pot and let that heat up.

The first I'm going to do is add three cups-- I'm sorry, three chopped onions. Every good soup recipe starts with chopped onions.

Now I will add the garlic. This is six cloves of chopped garlic. So it's got some heft to it.

I'm going to let that just color a little bit. I just don't want that onion-- the garlic to burn. But it's beginning to get really aromatic. It smells really wonderful.

Now I'm going to add the butternut squash. This is one medium, small to medium-sized butternut squash cubed. It's going to give this wonderful color and also a sweetness in the soup.

And then three chopped red peppers. Give this a stir. This is going to be a gorgeous looking soup.

Then I'm going to add a cup and a half of vegetable broth. Of course, if you don't need it to be vegetarian, you can always add chicken broth, if that's what you have in your pantry.

By the way, I said soup. This is really more of a stew. It's only a cup and a half of liquid. And it ends up being a beautiful bowl of vegetable stew.

The butternut squash has to cook through. It's going to take about 10 minutes. You want a little bite to it because we still have about five minutes of cooking left.

The next thing we're going to do is add the kale. And a lot of people will try to flatten it and go down one side and down the other. But if you just work with the kale, which wants to fold that way anyway, and you slice it right down there, there you go, end of the rib.

For this stew, I just chopped it roughly. It ends up being two inch strips this length, maybe a half inch wide. And then if they look a little big, I just give it another rough chop.

So time to add this to the stew. I wanted about six cups of fresh kale. This is a rough measure. Six cups is rough. And of course, everybody knows this is going to cook down by far.

And then I have this beautiful sage. This is fresh sage. You can use dried sage also. But as I said before, this adds a really magical, almost haunting, taste when it's combined with the kale.

And we just want the kale to cook down. It'll take maybe about five minutes. So at this point, I think I'm going to put a lid on it and let it steam a little bit because I don't want to toss the squash too much because I don't want to turn the squash into mush.

I think the kale is probably done. It's been cooking for about three to five minutes. Oh, it's gorgeous.

At this point, I'm going to add beans. These are Roman beans. I'm going to mix these in. And basically, they're cooked. So we're really just warming them at this point.

And then I'm going to add these black olives. I'm going to put a lid on this. And let the whole thing warm up so the beans get hot. And then we'll serve it.

I think the soup is probably ready, except add a little bit of salt and pepper. I'll add just about a teaspoon and leave it to the diners to add more. But I'm going to add a lot of pepper because there's never too much pepper.

OK, I'm going to serve this. And you can see it's really-- it's meant to be thick. And then to finish, I'm going to throw some Parmesan cheese on top.

And I do this with pastas. I do this with soups. I do it with even salads. I'll take one last drizzle of olive oil and then one tiny little pinch of salt to go with the olive oil.

This is my kale soup. I really need a better name than that. I will tell you that I've served this to my children. And they have called it the best food they've ever eaten. And that's saying a lot for kids to be having kale for dinner.

Vegetarian Kale Soup
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