Peasant Mushroom, White Bean and Kale Soup

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Abraham van Beveren, "Still Life with Lobster and Fruit," 1650s

Though we like to think of turkey legs as Renaissance food, but real Renaissance dining was much more varied, and honestly more interesting (and most people didn't eat a lot of meat).  What we call "The Renaissance" was the period between the 14th and 17th centuries that began in Italy, and spread throughout Europe.  It was a time of excess, and luxury, and indulgence.

There were no stovetop cooking systems as you and I know them, so a lot of foods were cooked in pastry and served as pies. Broth was made in a pot directly over a fire.  Soups were popular and abundant, but most were expensive.  Soups were usually dressed up with foods of many different colors, pomegranate seeds, and dressed with aromatic herbs.  This soup I call Peasant Soup, because it is more simple, dressed down, and not as pleasing to the eye as would be seen in court.

Peter Wtewael, "Kitchen Scene," 1620s

I based this on Renaissance recipes for soup and vegetables, but it is by no means authentic.  Kale would not have been available during this time, and the broth might have been too salty as salt was almost as precious as foreign spices. For a more period accurate version, you could substitute cabbage for the kale, and cut way down on salt. You could also make your own broth, which I will be posting very soon!

1 cup white wine or sherry
2 tsp liquid aminos
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (wild mushrooms are best)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
3 large kale leaves, without stems and roughly chopped
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 cup flour (or less, to thicken broth)
salt and pepper to taste
thyme, to taste
splash of white truffle oil
About 32 oz vegetable stock (I think I used a bit less)

In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil and add shallots and garlic.  Sauté until shallots are transparent and add in mushrooms, kale, and thyme.  Let these flavors mingle for just a bit, then add in salt and pepper, truffle oil (just a small amount), splash in the liquid aminos, followed by the wine and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil and add in the beans and lower heat to let simmer while covered.  Your soup is done when the mushrooms and kale are tender.  Your very last step should be whisking in enough flour to thicken the sauce just a bit (it should remain a little thin).  Serve garnished with thyme stems.

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