Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crazy for kale soup

We joined a local farm's CSA two weeks ago. That's right...we joined a farm share thing in the middle of winter. Why now, you ask, instead of in the spring when things are new and sprouting and warm? Because I freaking love cold-weather veggies! Turnips, kale, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots...brussels sprouts! Let's not forget the old standby broccoli and cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Every week is an adventure because we don't really know what we'll get, but every week we have fresh, local veggies (and eggs...the most delicious, buttery eggs I've ever tasted). And every week we learn new things about food and how to make it taste good.

I happy-danced in the farm market Saturday when I looked in our CSA bag and saw a large, curly-leafed, dark green mass of leaves. KALE! My favorite of all leafy greens. So tonight I made my favorite soup, Portuguese kale soup, and served it up with warm home-baked bread. It may be 25 degrees outside, but inside it's warm and spicy. And homey and lovey and delicious.

Mmm-mmm good
You need this recipe, too, which is my own take on my Vovo's (that's grandmother in Portuguese) kale soup. I recall my dad making this once and spending two days on it -- first rendering the chicken stock, then soaking and cooking the beans. However, because I am a working mama of two wild-child maniacs who need constant reminders that we cannot jump on the couch nor ride the cat nor play drums on our brother's head, my version takes only about 90 minutes total (and much of that time is simmer time).

Vovo's Portuguese Kale Soup

What you need:
  • 1 lb linguica or chourico sausage, casing removed, chopped into small pieces (these are Portuguese sausages, which you may be able to find in your grocery meat section; if you can't find it, you could probably substitute Mexican chorizo for a similar flavor)
  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 small red bliss potatoes, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2 cans kidney beans or cannelini beans (or one of each)
  • 1-2 pounds fresh kale (or two boxes frozen kale), rinsed and cut into small pieces
  • fresh ground pepper, oregano, hot sauce, or red pepper flakes to taste

How you do:
Cut sausage into bite sized pieces, and fry on stove top. While sausage is frying, pour chicken broth/stock and tomatoes into large sauce pan over medium heat. Once the sausage is browned, remove it to paper towel-lined plate to drain grease, then add to broth/tomato mixture. Drain grease from pan, but leave some of the baked-in bits of sausage.

Add olive oil to pan; scrape bits of browned sausage into oil as it heats. Add onion, carrots, and potatoes to pan and heat until tender (about 10-15 minutes, covered and stirring often). [This is a good time to chop up your fresh kale, or heat it if you're using frozen.] Throw in the garlic for just a couple minutes to heat through.

Add sauteed veggies to soup pot. Add beans. Bring to boil, then reduce to low heat. Simmer about 30 minutes. Taste it and add pepper and oregano, if you want. (Chourico is way spicier than linguica, so if you use the latter, you may want to kick it up with a couple splashes of hot sauce or red pepper flakes earlier in the process.)

About 10 minutes before serving, start adding the kale to the pot. It will wilt down a lot, but I add it in small batches and stir it through. (We like a lot of kale, but you should only add as much or as little as you want.)

I serve this with crusty rolls or bread, natch. And the whole family smiles broadly and sings "mmmmmm" as they take the first bites.