CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Chicken, Bean and Kale Soup

There’s no better reason to make a pot of soup than when you discover a new recipe that looks like a sure-fire winner. An even better one is when a winter storm is imminent.

The newest recipe that I’ve added to my soup repertoire, Chicken, Bean and Spinach, comes from a Twitter contact, Coach Mindy (@mycoachmindy), who shares post after post of great-looking dishes on a daily basis. (It originally came from juliasalbum.com, another great source of recipes.)

What I like the most about the recipe is that its ingredients include many of the vegetables grown in my garden, i.e. green bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots and onions. And another, kale, which is more than an adequate substitute for spinach and is quickly becoming one of my favorite foods.

Kale has been a mainstay in my garden the past two years. (If you are looking for a garden veggie that keeps on giving, I recommend kale. We still are eating it fresh from the garden, despite three snowfalls and some below-freezing temperatures.) And it also is one of the healthiest vegetables around.

Cooked, kale has special cholesterol-lowering benefits as well as risk-lowering benefits for at least five different types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate). Kale also contains more than 45 different flavonoids whose antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits give it a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

And if that isn’t enough, kale also is high in vitamins K, A and C and a great source of calcium, magnesium and iron. (Vitamin K is important for heart health, blot clotting, bone health, cancer prevention and diabetes prevention. Vitamin A helps support skin health and vision. Vitamin C is important for immune health and joint health, helps to keep the body hydrated and also increases your metabolism.)

Heck, with all of those attributes, who needs to wait for a snowstorm to make this soup!

Chicken, Bean and Kale Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pound chicken breast or tenders
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon paprika
1 large carrot, peeled and cubed into very small cubes
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained
3 cups fresh kale (can substitute spinach)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
2 cups water
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
In a large soup pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook for 1 minute. Then add chopped green bell pepper and cook for another minute on medium-high heat. Remove vegetables from the pan.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, heat it up on medium-high heat. Slice chicken into small pieces. Season chicken slices generously with paprika, oregano, basil, and salt. Sautee on medium-high heat until browned on both sides. The chicken does not have to be cooked all the way through, as you will continue cooking it in the next steps.

Return cooked onions and bell peppers to the pan. Add chopped carrots, tomatoes, red kidney beans, fresh spinach, and minced garlic. Add chicken broth and water. Add ½ teaspoon of oregano and ½ teaspoon basil. Bring to boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until carrots are cooked and chicken cooked through. Season with salt to taste.

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