Chicken, White Bean and Kale Soup with Gremolata Topping

There’s nothing more comforting (or delicious) than a bowl of homemade soup prepared and served on a chilly winter day. While there’s no wrong way to make chicken soup, here’s a hearty recipe from Monticello Farm Table Chef David Bastide that’s definitely in the “right way” category – one you’ll surely want to add to your lunch or dinner rotation.

Ingredients for the Soup

Serves 4-6

  • 1.5 pounds dried Cannellini or Great Northern beans (not canned)
  • 2 quarts homemade chicken stock – use recipe below or substitute with your favorite organic, low-sodium boxed stock
  • 1 quart of the bean cooking liquids, reserved from boiling the beans
  • 3 chicken thighs: bone in/skin on
  • 3 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 cups carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 cups celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup leeks, thinly sliced (wash thoroughly after slicing)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, roughly chopped (or substitute with your favorite kale)
  • 5 large, fresh sage leaves
  • 2 dry bay leaves (use fresh if you can find them – check the small organic spice boxes in the produce section of your supermarket)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparing Homemade Chicken Stock

While boxed stock is readily available from your supermarket, homemade chicken stock is easy to prepare and well worth the effort! Chef recommends the following ingredients and instructions (Note: these ingredients are in addition to those required for creating the soup.):

  • Bones and skin from 1 chicken carcass
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) peeled onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 7 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  1. Place the bones in a large pot and add just enough cold water to cover the chicken carcass.
  2. Bring to a slow boil, then immediately reduce heat to a low simmer.
  3. Skim the top of any foam debris that forms, then add all vegetables and herbs.
  4. Simmer on low for about 3 hours, then strain and cool. (pro tip: after refrigerating, a small amount of fat may form at the top of the stock. Once congealed, the fat is easily removed prior to using.)
  5. When cooled, your stock should be gelatinous. (pro tip: cooked stock can be frozen and used within 2-3 months. If refrigerating, stock should be used within 3 days. Don’t put hot stock in the refrigerator or freezer! Cool stock as quickly as possible by placing the soup pot directly in an ice water bath in your sink.)

For the Gremolata

  • ½ cup toasted bread crumbs (use stale baguette dried in oven or substitute with your favorite white panko bread crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and use to top off the soup when serving.

Preparing the Soup

  1. Sort through and remove any shriveled beans, stones or debris. Soak overnight, then rinse well in a colander. Place sorted beans in a pot and cover with cold water 2” above the beans. Bring to a boil, skim the top for foam debris, add bay leaves and 3 sage leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. While the beans are cooking, chop all vegetables as noted above. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a separate pot, then reduce heat to a low simmer and add chicken thighs and drumsticks. Cook on a low simmer for approximately twenty minutes. This will make a concentrated stock that will provide great texture for the chicken. Cook until proper temperature is reached – 165 Fahrenheit on your meat thermometer.
  3. Heat up a separate pot (8qt or more), add oil and cook the onions for a few minutes, until translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste, followed by carrots, celery and leeks. Cook on low heat for an additional 10 minutes – this will allow the natural sugars to emerge. Take care not to fully brown the vegetables! Once this stage is complete, add the garlic and continue to cook on low heat for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  4. When the chicken is fully cooked and can be pulled apart from the bone, remove from the stock to allow to cool prior to deconstructing. Discard the bay and sage leaves from the stock.
  5. While the chicken is cooling, check to see if your beans are done. Drain the beans and save 2 cups of the liquid. Return approximately 1/3rd of the cooked beans to their pot and add a small amount of the reserved liquid – these will cook for approximately 5 minutes longer to soften so they can be ‘smashed’ easily to add extra texture to the soup.
  6. Add all beans, including those you have ‘smashed’ and the remaining bean cooking liquid to your soup pot with the stock and Mirepoix – the fancy French term for onions, carrots and celery! Chop and add the remaining sage leaves. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to slow simmer and add kale.
  7. Return to the cooled chicken and pull the meat off the bones, then add to the soup pot with the stock, beans and Mirepoix. Cook for 10 minutes and adjust salt and pepper to your preference.
  8. At this time, make your gremolata by mixing all ingredients together.
  9. Top each bowl with the gremolata mixture and serve warm.

Et voilà– your soup is ready to serve! Top with the gremolata mixture for a wonderful texture and boost of flavor. Bon appetit!

~ Chef David Bastide, Monticello Farm Table

pro tips

  • Making the soup the day before you serve it will allow the flavors to fully develop and mix together beautifully.
  • Adding the bulk of your salt and pepper with the onions when they’re first cooked enhances the full soup flavor. Salt and pepper can then be adjusted just prior to serving if needed.