Polenta Soup with Kale and Parmesan

4-6 Servings

30 minutes

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Polentina alla toscana, a rustic Italian soup, is a brothy version of soft polenta with a few added ingredients. For our take, we use water as the liquid, not chicken or vegetable stock, so the corn flavor is more pronounced. It’s important, however, to use coarse stoneground cornmeal to obtain the correct texture and taste. Lacinato kale, the type called for here, is sometimes referred to as Tuscan or dinosaur kale; the dark-green leaves become tender after only a few minutes of cooking. If you would like to make the soup heartier, add a can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) along with the kale.



30 minutes


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Cristina L.
February 19, 2023
Great soup. Instead of water, I made a quick Parmesan broth with Parmesan rings and vegetables.
February 2, 2023
Excellent and quick to the table
I made the soup as written with the optional cannellini beans and everyone loved it and thought it was very flavorful.
Lawrence C.
October 15, 2022
Polenta Soup
I made this with half chicken stock half water and used 6 or 7 ounces of cheese (half 'n half parm and asiago). Added a jalapeno to the onion and navy beans with the kale. We loved it!
Sydney A.
February 14, 2023
Good, but thin
I had a problem with the soup not becoming any thicker after the 15 minutes on low heat (it was still the consistency of water). I turned up the heat for a few minutes, but nothing happened. I'm not sure what went wrong, but I add a heaping 1/4 cup of instant polenta to it and that thickened it right up, and it was very good.
Dennis D.
February 8, 2023
Great Idea for Soup!
I thought that this recipe provided a really good base, but it did need something to make it special. I added chicken bouillon (BTB) to bump it up, so needed less salt to compensate. We served ours with some bacon as well. I thought this was an excellent soup.
Jennifer C.

I found this a little bland as written, so I "souped" (lol) it up with the following:
2 boullion cubes
xtra parm (kept adding until I got a strong flavor)
then it was awesome!
Added some white beans too. We're loving it for lunches this week.
I wonder if my result could be because I was using a lower quality domestic parm versus true parmiagiano reggiano? I would guess a stronger imported parm wouldn't need as much flavor help. Your mileage may vary!

Ruth H.

Sometimes Asiago will give a better flavor using less cheese.

Scott H.

Mine turned out great! I did use chicken stock instead of water. I also added pancetta and the beans as you suggested. Will make again for sure!!

Diana L.

I just made this soup as written. It tastes really good. The rosemary gave this soup an excellent flavor. I am not sure why previous review stated that it was bland (possibly not using fresh rosemary). I will be making this soup again.

Linda W.

Parade Magazine's adaptation adds a can of cannellini beans, similar to others' recommendations above. Seems like a good idea.

flavia Z.

I made this as written first, and it was wonderful, the leeks give it a special something. I wanted to make it again, but had some cooked polenta I was going to fry, but didn't feel like it. So I added the cooked block of polenta instead, and used a potato masher. It wasn't smooth like the original, but it had a more 'rustic' feel that was still soft and delicious. Thank you Milk Street!


I used chicken broth, added beans, and also some carrots and celery. I found this incredibly bland, and not something I would make again.

Venita D.

I loved this soup. I used spinach and put a small piece of Parmesan with the rind in for extra flavor. I also added fresh oregano and red pepper flakes.