I adjusted and tweaked this recipe for months and I am finally happy with it. It is a hearty, satisfying, healthy, and delicious soup. Everyone who has tasted it wants the recipe. Serve with a good crusty bread and you'll be happy!
1Heat oil in a large (4-5 qt.) soup pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, celery, and bell pepper, then season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add kale and sauté until wilted. Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and chopped tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute. Add chicken broth and water, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any vegetables.
2Take one and a half cans of rinsed, drained beans, smash them (with a fork or in a food processor with a little water) until they are a smooth paste, then stir into soup. Add the rest of the whole beans and Parmesan cheese rind. Add bacon. Simmer approximately 1 hour.
3Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Remove any of the Parmesan cheese rind (if there is any left) and the bay leaf, stir in chopped parsley, then serve with additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. A hearty meal served with a crusty bread.
4NOTE** Parmesan cheese rind is the dried end of a chunk of REAL Parmesan cheese. Just cut it off the chunk. It adds a richness and saltiness you can't get any other way.
**You can substitute great northern beans for all or part of the cannellini beans. You can also substitute smoked turkey meat or ham for the Canadian bacon.