Tuscan Chicken and White Bean Soup

I’ve lived in Edmonton for nearly my whole life- 23 years out of the 27 that I have been alive; and you would think that I’d know better by now. That I would know that no matter what balmy weather climate change has to offer, Mother Nature is in the drivers seat; and without warning, and much to everyone’s chagrin, it could snow for two days straight and bring us all right back down to reality. When the mercury dips below zero, I crave warm and comforting foods; and nothing says “comfort” quite like warm chicken and white bean soup.

You may have noticed that I have been posting more dishes containing meat here on the Vitality Guide, and it’s simply because in listening to my body, it’s telling me that it wants animal protein; and I believe that it is essential to listen to what my body wants and provide it with the highest quality foods that I can. If you missed the post where I detail my views on meat eating, here it is. So in listening to my body, I have inadvertently been eating a fairly paleo diet; although I hate labels, it’s the closest description of what my meals currently look like.

Bean, like those found in this chicken and white bean soup, serve to provide us with the fiber that is missing from our diets; our ancestors easily reached their daily fiber requirements with ease, but such is not the case for your average North American man or woman. Point blank, we don’t eat enough fiber; and if you are feeling in any way backed up, beans are for you. And it’s worth mentioning that our Paleolithic ancestors ate somewhere in the ball park of 50-100g of fiber per day.For this and no other reason, beans deserve a place on your plate. Aside from keeping everything in working order, beans also help to lower cholesterol- by up to 10% in a mere six weeks!

This chicken and white bean soup was initiated while I was working; it was my turn to come up with a soup for the next day and with chicken and beans, it was a no brainer to make chicken and white bean soup. The snow was falling outside and showed no signs of slowing, so I made this warming dish at work and then went home and made it again- hey, when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The flavor profile for this chicken and white bean soup is decidedly Tuscan, with the addition of sage; and I can never resist Lacinato, aka black leaf, kale; it fortifies this soup with an amazing amount of antioxidants and a most welcome toothsome bite. Now this soup has meat in it, obviously; however, it can be easily converted  to accommodate the vegans by omitting the chicken and using vegetable stock instead- don’t worry, my current Paleo-ness will not lead me to forget about the veggies!

Cold, wet, rain, or snow- whatever the weather calls for, be ready with a big bowl of steaming Tuscan Chicken and White Bean Soup!

6 oz. chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
1 cup sliced fennel
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 cup lacinato kale, sliced into strips
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup white beans, soaked and rinsed
1 1/4 cup chicken stock

Season the chicken breast with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. In a large soup pot heat the coconut oil, add the chicken and cook on both sides for 4 minutes each. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Add the leeks, garlic and fennel and stir, cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the fennel and onions are fragrant and translucent. Add the kale, sage and beans and stir; cook for 3 minutes and add the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes and season with the remaining salt and red chili flakes.

PS- this soup gets better with age- you’re welcome!