Transform Kale with store-cupboard saviours

Italian style kale, barley and bean soup (vegetarian or vegan)

How often are you faced with some random vegetables at the bottom of your fridge on the day before your next weekly food shop? Take for example this array of kale, carrots, parsley and savoy cabbage.


Tempted to throw them in the compost heap in a sense of frustration? Or maybe steam them as an accompaniment to your next meal or add them to a Spanish omelette?

What about a vegetarian/vegan soup? With the help of some ‘store-cupboard saviours’ you could turn them into something bigger than the sum of their own parts. A substantial and sustainable meal that can be eaten today and tomorrow with friends.

Store-cupboard Saviours

IMAG2081By keeping a few ingredients to hand such as stock cubes, condiment jars, grains, frozen peas and tinned pulses, you always have the means to turn your odds and ends into a well balanced ‘meat free’ meal or soup. For example cannellini beans, pot barley, pesto and stock cubes can create a nutritionally balanced meal by adding some of your odd vegetables. It is also relatively cheap.

Try this Italian style kale, barley and bean soup below, it’s a great way to introduce yourself to kale. I adapted it from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Raid the larder bean and spelt broth’ adding an Italian twist with the pesto (my 7 year old thought this version was better!).

Italian Style kale, barley and bean soup

Serves 6 or 8, or 4 with enough for tomorrow’s lunch. You will need a large pan 3 litre pan.


2 tins of cannellini beans, 150g of pot barley (the whole version of pearl barley), 2 litres of vegetable stock from a stock cube, 2 carrots diced, 3-4 leaves of kale shredded, 1/4 of savoy cabbage shredded, handful of chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 4 tablespoons of pesto (vegan version if wish), salt and cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse your barley and simmer in the stock for about 30 min (it will take about 45 min to be ready to eat).
  2. If you haven’t done so already prepare your vegetables. When the barley is starting to become tender add the tinned beans, frozen peas and carrots. Allow to simmer for 5 min or so.
  3. Add the kale and cabbage and simmer for up to 10 min or until tender
  4. Add the chopped parsley and pesto. You may add more or less pesto according to your taste. Taste the soup and season with the pepper and/or salt. Serve in bowls.


Storage: keeps well in fridge or freezer

Dietary/nutrition: vegetarian can be adapted to vegan. Carbohydrate: Barley scores lower on the glycaemic index than e.g. rice so its a good choice for curbing sugar cravings and staying full. Vegetables: Kale and all the cruciferous vegetables such as this cabbage are extremely high in an array of vitamins. Protein: cannellini beans when combined with most whole grains provide a complete protein

Alternative versions of above: try butter beans, quinoa, buckwheat groats, or rice. Vary the green vegetables and add in any other root vegetable.

By Orietta Z L Houghland


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