Unordinary French onion soup with kale and white beans

It is one of those dishes you either love or hate. The one I am going to prepare and share with you, however, is not the classical onion soup, but it’s equally if not even more comforting, especially on a chilly winter afternoon.

I decided to twist things up a bit this time. Reduce the amount of onions and add other ingredients. So this time I’ll be preparing the kale and white beans thick soup with caramelized onions, topped with garlic bread covered with provolone cheese, broiled in the oven.

Let’s commence with preparing the beans. Ideally, you’ll want to get dry beans, let them soak in water overnight and cook them the next day. Or just get them canned… drain and rinse.

Slice the onions quite thin, put them in a pan with just a little bit of olive oil and 1/2 tbsp of butter. Add a pinch of salt and simmer on medium heat. It will take some time for them to brown and start caramelizing, and you’ll want to stir them often to cook evenly and prevent them from burning.

While onions are caramelizing chop the kale in mid-size pieces, coarsely, about 1/2 inch size.

As soon as the onions start to get brown and stick to the pan, add 1 tbsp of sugar and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

You can turn the heat to high now and add in the kale. Stir for about 5 minutes and add in the white beans.

Cover with enough water (or vegetable stock) to cover. do not add too much liquid as want a thick soup, sort of like a minestrone. Add the marjoram, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, cover, reduce the heat and let simmer for 1/2 hour.

While the soup is slowly bubbling, prepare the garlic bread and provolone cheese. I prefer to use fresh or not to dry bread, but you could use old dr bread if you prefer it extra crispy. Prepare the garlic butter by dissolving a knob of butter in the microwave and adding 1/2 tsp of fresh minced garlic. Coat both sides of the bread slices with butter and toast them in a non-stick pan until golden brown.

Cut the provolone cheese (or another type of cheese of your liking, Gruyere, Swiss cheese, cheddar…) into small cubes or grate it to fairly large chunks.

The soup is ready when the beans are tender, the kale soft and still green, not grayish and the onions are almost completely melted, giving the soup a thick consistency.

Serve the soup in bowls, preferably terracotta. Top with one slice of toasted garlic bread and finish with the cheese, about 1/3 cup per bowl.

Pop in a preheated oven, just under the broiler at maximum heat for 3-5 minutes, just enough to melt and brown the cheese.

And it’s done, enjoy!

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

  • 4-6 large onions
  • 3 cups of chopped kale
  • 3 cups of cooked white beans
  • 4-6 slices of bread
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 cups grated provolone cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste, olive oil