This is a hearty but healthy soup. It’s been in the single digits here in Michigan, and this soup is a welcome warm-up. It’s great for dinner with a thick slice of crusty bread and a hunk of hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano or Asiago), or have it for lunch. I loaded the soup up with greens because I feel like our vegetable intake is always lacking in the winter, but you can certainly cut back on the amount of greens. I used dried beans that I soaked, but if you don’t have the time to soak the beans overnight, you can substitute canned beans. I used Great Northern Beans, but you can substitute any other type of white bean (including garbanzos), or use a combination of beans.
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion – chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
- 2 TBS. Olive Oil
- 48 oz. Dried Great Northern (White) Beans (or your favorite white bean)
- 1 Smoked Turkey Leg
- 1/2-1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Cups Chopped Carrots (about 3 carrots)
- 1 Cup Celery – Chopped
- 64 Oz. Chicken Stock (about 12 Cups)
- 4-6 Cups Kale or Escarole (or other dark leafy green)
- Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Thyme
Pour beans into a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. Drain the beans and set aside. Add the turkey leg to a medium stockpot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until turkey leg is cooked and tender – about 60-90 minutes. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and garlic and saute until tender. Add smoked turkey leg, beans, and chicken stock, and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until beans are al dente (about 15-20 minutes). Remove turkey leg from the pot, and, when cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the leg (discarding skin) and shred. Ladle out about 1 cup beans and 1/3 cup of cooking liquid and transfer to a blender or food processor. Puree bean mixture and return puree to stockpot. Add shredded turkey meat, carrots, celery, greens, and bay leaf and simmer until vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese and a sprig of fresh thyme.