Thursday, February 2, 2012

Let Them Eat Kale

In the ever difficult quest to eat 5 servings of vegetables each day I am trying to expand the variety and the serving method of different veggies. ( Is is possible to o.d. on green beans?) Tonight I had a bag of sliced kale and no desire to eat more sauteed green stuff. I found a recipe in " More with Less" the Mennonite cookbook I have had since the late 70's. I had no idea there were so many ways to serve kale, none of which sounded appealing until I found one with enough garlic to overpower the bitterness of the kale. Woo Hoo! Since there are just 2 of us tonight and The Hub is still a tiny bit under the weather, we decided to have a soup and biscuit night. (The 7 Up biscuits from a few nights ago were requested and as easy as they are to make I only had to pretend I was doing The Hub a huge favor by making them. I did act like it would put me out and he would be indebted to me on a later date. No sense in letting a request go without a future pay off)

Anyway this recipe was simply called Kale and Vegetable Soup

1 quart of chicken broth from the carcass of Sunday dinner (????????? Translation: 1 box of chicken broth and enough water to equal 1 quart.
4 cups shredded kale
4 carrots chopped
1 medium winter squash ( used butternut) peeled and chopped in cubes
2 onions chopped
1 whole head garlic minced
4 parsnips chopped
2 turnips peeled and chopped
1 jar of tomatoes ( No idea what size jar, but I assume I should have canned these this past summer. Instead I bought 4 tomatoes at The Pig)
1 jar of white beans ( Again I am sure I should have done these sometime recently. This meant 1 can of navy beans to me)

Saute' the aromatics in a little bacon fat or oil ( When is the last time you remember someone saving rendered fat?)
They suggested you then put everything but the kale and the canned beans in the soup kettle over a medium fire. I don't have a soup kettle and unless the dial on my stove top is set to medium I have no idea what it might be. Anyway the recipe is pretty much a "cook it all until it is soft" then using the potato masher squish all the vegetables. When they are all nice and mushy stir in the canned beans and kale and cook until the kale is cooked through. Serve and enjoy

When all was said and done I am not sure I used this recipe at all except as a starting point. I cut all of the vegetables except the garlic and kale into quarters. There were no parsnips at The Pig and the turnips were on the large side so I left them out entirely and added extra carrots and a couple of zucchini I cut off the top of the entire garlic bulb and set it on a lightly oiled baking pan, I put the other cut vegetables on the same pan and drizzled a little olive oil over all. I popped it in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes stirring them every 10 or so minutes. When the vegetables were done I transferred all* but the butternut squash and the carrots to the blender and pureed it. The pureed mixture went into the pot along with the chicken broth. Be sure to scrape all the brown caramelized veggie bits from the pan. It deepens the flavor of the soup base. When it was a gentle simmer I added the kale and beans (undrained) and cooked till the kale wilted and the soup was hot. The carrots and squash were stirred in along with a little salt and pepper. It was served with the 7 Up biscuits and nothing else.

The verdict: I was surprised at how good this was. Oven roasting the vegetables was an easy way to develop the flavor a little more and blending the blender made the consistency a dense vegetable laden soup. I left the carrots and squash out of the blend because I thought they would turn the soup base orange. It turned orange when they were all blended anyway, so when I do it again I will go ahead and add them to the puree mix. I will also at least double the kale. The flavors of the garlic and onion are intense enough to carry a lot more kale. Plus roasting the veggies brought out all of their natural sugars to offset a lot of kale bitterness.

I had 4 servings left over so i put them in little ziploc food containers for the freezer. If any of you have a silicon muffin pan you can freeze the soup in each cup then pop them out and put them in a freezer storage bag. Throw a couple or 3 of the soup "pucks" in a microwave safe bowl and you have soup for 1 anytime . I go ahead and freeze mine in 2 serving containers for those nights when we need something quick. I used to just put it in a big bowl in the fridge but I always felt obligated to eat it until it was gone. The Hub refuses to eat the same thing 2 days in a row so I would eat it for lunch. By day 3 I would be sick of it. When it gets frozen, it comes back in a couple of weeks as a completely new meal, no waste and no one but me knows it was leftover.

As a totally unrelated aside, I had lunch today with several lovely ladies. Somehow or another the discussion turned to physics and string theory and wormholes. " Blonda" was talking about a movie she had seen with the star traveling through a wormhole and having a visit in real time with her long dead father, but for everyone else it looked like no time had lapsed at all. Her quote to explain time and space folding in on itself was " See! It's always 5 o'clock somewhere!"

Love it and now love kale!

* The garlic was roasted whole with just the very top of all the cloves cut off. All you have to do to get it out of the skin is turn it upside down and squeeze it out. This gorgeous roasted garlic turns into a paste after roasting. Its not a bad idea to roast about 10 bulbs at one time and freeze it in individual containers. You can use it in tons of things or mix it with a little olive oil and spread it on a baguette round

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