This recipe is extremely flexible and forgiving. Substitute or add almost any veggie you like, or need to use up. Gotta have the Kale though. Kale stays hearty and toothsome in this soup, unlike other greens that wilt away to stringy mush. It successfully replaces noodles in adding substance to this vegetable soup. Not to mention it is one of nature's super foods. You can almost never eat too much kale! Serve with a slice of rustic whole wheat Italian bread for sopping up the broth.
NOTE: Substitute any vegetables or beans you like in this recipe. The only essential veggies here is the onion, tomato (and even that is arguable) and of course the Kale. Carrots stongly recommened. Other suggestions include: Potatoes, corn, peas, celery, sweet potatoes, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, ANYTHING! Your total veggie amount, not counting the onions and tomatoes, should equal roughly 4 cups. Like I said, this recipe is insanely verstile and forgiving. Play around with the seasonings, too!
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and sautee until starting to turn tender, about 4 minutes. Add carrots and bell pepper (if using) and saute 4 more minutes. Add remaining veggies, excpet kale, beans and tomatoes, and sautee just a few minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes, beans, and kale. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Add herbs and pepper and simmer 25 minutes.