White Bean and Collard Soup with a Tomato-Balsamic Base

My mom used to make this dish for me all the time when I was little, and with over a pound of fresh collard greens on hand, I decided it was my time to try it. 
About six months ago, I discovered a wonderful little antique store on the way up to visit my grandparents in Rochester, NY (also where I will be attending med school next year!). I bought a cast iron Dutch oven for $25, as well as a set of three vintage pyrex cinderella bowls and a beautiful vintage pyrex loaf pan.
In the past several years, my mom has transitioned from making the dish in her own cast iron Dutch oven to cooking in her all-purpose enamel coated Le Creuset. Somehow, the flavor is slightly different with the enamel coating. When I made the dish in my cast iron Dutch oven, it took on the same delicious tastes that I remembered from my childhood. While this can be made in any kind of pot, I wholly recommend trying it in a cast iron Dutch oven!

White Bean and Collard Soup with a Tomato-Balsamic Base
  • I tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 lb. collards, washed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  •  2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2-1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

In a large dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil.  When they are golden, add the greens and sauté until wilted and coated with the oil.  Then add the tomatoes, beans, broth, vinegar, bay leaf and thyme. 
Simmer, covered, for about 3/4 hour, then another 1/2 hour uncovered, making sure that the beans don’t dry out. Continue cooking until beans are creamy and soft, and flavors are melded. When  you remove from the heat, season with  salt to taste, pepper and balsamic vinegar.

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