Parsnip, kale and white bean soup

Parsnip, kale and white bean soup

Real Food by Mike
Alan Benson

I make this soup with chicken stock but, for a vegetarian base, you can use water or a nice vegetable stock and omit the pork belly from the recipe. You can use the gluten-free Sprouted buckwheat sourdough on page 242 instead of the sourdough bread in the recipe, if you prefer. A good tip with a pulse like cannellini beans, is to soak them overnight with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda in the water. The next day rinse and drain the beans well and simmer them very slowly in water or stock. The bicarbonate of soda will make the skin supple, enabling the beans to expand slowly without splitting and losing their shape.


Quantity Ingredient
450g pork belly, minced
1 small swede, peeled and diced
1 brown onion, peeled and diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
1 large leek, washed and diced
150ml olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra
200ml white wine
125g cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight
1 bay leaf
1 litre chicken stock, plus extra as needed
350g parsnips, peeled and chopped into large chunks
200g kale, stems chopped and leaves shredded
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 marjoram sprigs, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
freshly ground white pepper
500g sourdough bread


  1. In a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, sauté the pork and diced vegetables in the oil until lightly coloured. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the beans and bay leaf and top up with stock to cover by 2 cm. Simmer gently over low heat for 2 hours or until the beans are tender, adding more stock if needed.
  2. Add the parsnip, kale and parsley and simmer for another 30 minutes until just cooked. Add the garlic and marjoram and season with the sea salt and white pepper.
  3. Allow to stand, off the heat, for 20 minutes before serving, so all the vegetables and beans can continue to soak up the stock. Serve the soup poured over a slice of sourdough bread with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Kale is a rich source of flavanoids, such as beta-carotene, which have strong antioxidant and anticancer attributes. It contains vitamin K (essential for blood clotting) and vitamin C (for an immune boost). The nutrients in kale offer protection from vitamin A deficiency, osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anaemia, and are believed to protect from cardiovascular disease. Parsnips are rich in anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anticancer antioxidants. They also contain generous amounts of the vitamins B, C, K and E.
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