Did you miss National Kale Day on October 1? Me too. I can’t say I’m enamored of kale. Despite it being a cruciferous vegetable, most of which are highly associated with Czechs, Grandma and Mom didn’t grow it or serve it. I’m not sure they ever had it; not part of their religion.
My friends, Dianne and Mitch, love kale: kale smoothies for breakfast, kale salads for lunch, and sautéed kale for supper when their kale crops are abundant. That’s when I receive kale whether I want it or not. So I’ve learned to love one kale recipe, and I am sharing it with you, in case you have equally generous or even zealous friends.
Mitch grows their kale in raised beds. That’s really convenient, especially when I’m asked to harvest kale when they are gone. They grow the straight kind and the curly kind. I leave the straight kind for other harvesters. I prefer the curly kale.
Pick or cut the leaves from the bottom of the plant up. The stems are really tough so I start by folding the washed leaves along the stem line and cutting it out. Maybe the smoothie making machine can pulverize the stems; I don’t know. But my soup only calls for stemless curly kale. It is amazing how much kale cooks down, so you need a lot. I’d say a full colander of cut stemless curly kale.
Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, caramelize a coarsely diced onion in olive oil. Yes, I know – you’re not supposed to cook with olive oil. Tough; I do. Then add a cup or so of vegetable or chicken broth to the sizzling onion, and quickly add the colander of cut, stemless, curly kale and cover it so that it steams in the broth. Don’t worry if it fills the pot; the kale will cook down. As it cooks, add about a tablespoon of minced garlic. The later you add it, the more garlic-y it will taste.
When it’s cooked (when it doesn’t reduce in volume anymore), add the rest of the broth, about 1½ cups of cut-up cooked chicken, a can of great northern beans (I’m partial to Natural Directions organic beans), canned or fresh mushrooms, and pepper. Once you have tried it, you can experiment by putting in anything else in the frig that has to go, like veggies (bok choy and carrots are especially nice) or even carbs like rice or pasta from the night before. We call them “must-goes.” I usually do not need to add salt because the broth is salty enough. If you want to make this vegetarian, use the veggie broth and omit the chicken.
The soup is actually very pretty and tasty. So for you non-believers out there, give this recipe a try. You can start out with much less kale and sneak up on the recipe. Or substitute some leafy spinach for part of the kale; just don’t tell your zealous friends.
Have faith. Even you might turn out to like kale.
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