Kale Stem Soup

Once the bunch of kale is gone, there remain the stems.  And it’s a waste to waste.  This is my way of bypassing the compost heap in favor of my favorite food: soup.  Since this soup is more of a template than a specific recipe, you’ll find multiple ways to customize to your taste and available produce!

Yield: 8-10 cups (more or less depending on how much veg you add)

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, white parts only, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional, I usually omit it, but if you love garlic – have at it)
  • 2 cups kale stems, finely sliced (from one bunch, if there’s a bit more than 2 cups, no worries, throw them in too)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (the soup will be as good as the broth, so use home-made if possible, and something with lots of flavor)
  • 2 cups diced rutabaga (or turnip, or parsnip, or carrot, or celery root, or potato, or sweet potato – you get the idea)
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned carrot (or a 1/2 cup of finely sliced kale or collards, or a 1/2 cup more of diced vegetable, or 2 tablespoons of arame seaweed)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (here a mixture of chives and dill, but plain ole parsley would work too, so would cilantro.  If you go with tarragon, rosemary or thyme, then use MUCH less (a few sprigs will be sufficient), and add them at the beginning of the cooking (with the broth), rather than at the end)
  • 2-1/2 cups cooked beans (here you have a blend of yellow split pea and sprouted pinto beans, but anything goes)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, add the oil, leek, onion and kale stems and a healthy pinch of salt and set over medium-low.  Sweat the vegetables, stirring once in a while, until they’re soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, if using, and stir another minute or so, until fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, diced rutabaga and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer until the rutabaga is tender, 10 minutes or so.
  3. Uncover, add the julienned carrots, chopped fresh herbs and cooked beans.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes more, until the carrots are done and the beans heated through.
  4. Serve.


  • Add a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the vegetables right at the beginning (step 1) and proceed the same way for the rest;
  • Add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms to the vegetables at the beginning (step 1) and proceed the same way for the rest;
  • Omit the salt and at the very end, once the soup is off the heat, salt using miso paste to taste (mix paste with some of the hot broth until smooth, and then blend it into the soup).


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