Come se fosse l’inverno – Zuppa gratinata di ceci e cavolo nero  With the heat on, yes indeed it seems like winter. I live in the part of the city that gets the fog in summer, so my brain is wired to behave like we’re in winter and I have soup cravings.

Growing up, I have always asked my parents why did they have to move to the most rainy and muggy part of France where I was born and raised, and not in the South. My dad would nod his head “ma insomma Silvia, siamo andati dove c’era lavoro!”. Ok fine, they moved where there was work, but still that did not justify living in that terrible weather. I always dreamed that one day, I would be living in a very warm and sunny place where I wouldn’t have to wear socks and a weather that would not make my hair curl. Here I am…not exactly warm and sunny but I don’t have to wear socks, my hair does curl…BUT it’s definitely a beautiful city. I guess, you cannot have it all.

Kale is a great leafy vegetables and can be accommodated in so many different ways. In Italy they make wonderful soups with it, and this one is one among many. You could of course use cannellini beans for a variation, or chards instead of kale.

When using kale, I blanch it for a few minutes, to get rid of the dark water it produces. I gratinated it with comté cheese, not really an Italian cheese, but it melts well. You could use fontina for a more Italian touch, but Italians and French are cousins, so their cuisine is quite related. We say Italians are like the French but with a smile…which is quite close to the reality.

This soup is very simple, so if one day, you buy kale and have no inspiration about how to prepare it, try this soup, it’s healthy, delicious and quite simple. Crack a good amount of fresh pepper on top and it’s ready to be consumed…without moderation!

Ingredients for 4

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch kale, blanched and chopped
  • 1 lb (or 400 g) cooked chick peas
  • comté cheese (or gruyère), grated
  • salt and cracked pepper


Heat olive oil in a pot. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables soften. In the meantime blanch kale or chards in salted boiling water for a few minutes. Drain, squeeze some liquid and chop. Add broth to the vegetables then add kale. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes, then add chick peas, let it cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle with a good amount of comté cheese or gruyère. Place under broiler and let it melt and become golden brown. Crack black pepper on top and serve hot with toasted country bread.