This summer I've signed up for Penn's Corner CSA as one of my main sources of food. It is a delicious way to eat green, but I've been ending up with a lot of kale and I'll admit I wasn't the biggest fan at first. I remember kale as the lettuce my mother could never figure out how to prepare and the one she'd try to trade for something else when bunches of it showed up on the list for our CSA share. It was a fun CSA, run by a man named Ed who filled his pick-up truck with produce and parked it in front of the hardware store every Saturday morning in the summer. If you bought a share, you were guaranteed certain produce, but you could buy more or just show up. It was a pretty chill and awesome deal. Ed knew we never wanted the kale, always tried to get us to take it, but didn't mind if we didn't.
And now? Well, I'm living in Pittsburgh and the CSA isn't so flexible and I'm not about to throw out good food. So I set out to find a good way to prepare kale. I tried using it as a salad green, but it was too chewy and too bitter. I tried mixing it in with other lettuces to make a salad mix, but it still stood out too much for my taste. I tried making kale chips. Have you ever eaten a deep fried feather? I haven't, but I imagine the texture would be much the same as the kale chips I made.
But I finally hit on the best way to eat kale - in soup! Here are two great soup recipes with kale:
Chilled Lettuce Soup
This soup almost has the texture of a lettuce shake. You have to be a little brave to try it and I don't recommend it for anyone that is averse to the tomato juice/V8 concept. The violent reaction from my anti-V8 boyfriend taught me that (sorry Kevin), but, personally, I thought this soup was delicious.
6-8 cups of mixed lettuces (including kale if you like, just make sure there are at least a few dark greens in there for flavor, an all iceberg soup would probably be pretty bland)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/8 cup fresh herbs (I used mostly chives, but also a bit of thyme, basil, and parsely that I had on hand)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2-3 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Blanche lettuce and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in small skillet and saute onion until translucent. Add half the herbs, a dash of salt and pepper, and the white wine. Simmer for 2 minutes then add the chicken stock and the rest of the herbs. Allow to cool slightly.
3. Combine in blender: lettuce, onion and herb mixture, yogurt, and milk. Blend until desired consistency is reached. If you've been blending for awhile and the soup is still too thick try adding water one tablespoon at a time. You shouldn't need more than 3 tablespoons. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Optional: Top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and pepper at serving time.
Kale, Potato, and Sausage Soup
This soup is based on the Portuguese soup caldo verde, but I love Italian sausage so I used that instead of the traditional linguica sausage.
1/2 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy depending on your tastes), chopped or crumbled (you want to end up with chunks of meat not whole sausages in the final product)
1 pound kale, rinsed, chopped, stems removed (this sounds like a lot, but it shrinks when it cooks)
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 clove garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In tall stock pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and sausage then saute until the onions soften and sausage cooks through. Add chicken stock, water, and potatoes. Simmer on medium-low heat until the potatoes begin to fall apart. Stir or whisk soup until the potatoes break up enough to make it look like a cream soup with chunks of potato. Add the kale and simmer for 25 minutes on low heat. Check for seasoning and allow to simmer a few minutes more before serving. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, or red pepper flakes if desired.