Navy Bean and Kale Soup with Preserved Lemon and Harissa
Inspired by the Zuni Cafe

For this recipe, I decided not to soak the beans. Well, I sort of didn’t plan ahead, hence the lack of soaking. However, in trying to research soaking vs not soaking the beans, I came upon a few mentions on how, while the beans take longer to cook without soaking, they have better texture and flavor. Since I planned poorly and had no choice, that’s the option I went with. However, should you choose to soak your beans ahead of time, I imagine your cooking time will be decreased by about half. Also, there’s a school of thought that recommends salting the beans only after they are tender. Harold McGee tells us that salting the unsoaked beans before they are tender, does slow the cooking process down somewhat, however it allows for the beans to be properly seasoned. Should you presoak the beans, adding salt to the soaking water will actually cook them faster.

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large carrots, finely diced
1 large celery rib, finely diced
1 cup (200 grams) navy beans
One (2-inch) piece Parmesan rind
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1 preserved lemon, preferably homemade
1 1/2 tablespoons harissa, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, plus additional to taste
1 to 2 cups chopped Swiss chard, kale, or baby spinach

1. In a large pot set over medium heat add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and warm until the oil shimmers. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, stir to combine, and cook, stirring, until the onions and celery are soft, about 4 minutes. Make sure that the vegetables do not caramelize – if the heat is too high; lower it to sweat the vegetables.

2. Add 12 cups of water, the beans, parmesan rind, and salt, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes (see note on using presoaked beans). Season with salt and stir.

3. Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon and discard. Finely dice the rind. Add the rind and harissa to the soup, and stir to dissolve harissa. Cover and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Add the chard or kale and let the soup simmer for 5 minutes before serving. [If using spinach instead, divide spinach across bowls and ladle the soup over the leaves.] Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Serves 6

© 2024 Olga Massov