Tuesday, April 13, 2010
round and round we go
The funny thing about seasonal cooking is that it leads to seasonal thinking. About this time two years ago I was making excuses for posting a chili recipe, noting that it would still be chili weather in Seattle for some weeks yet. And now, the same thoughts having apparently gone round and round in my head along with the months, here I am in high spring, offering you a hearty soup.
But what a soup! This version of caldo verde, or Portuguese kale soup, comes from Emeril (yes, that Emeril...I know! But stick with me) via The Splendid Table. It's simple, savory, and makes a ton. And it's a great use for the greens that are so plentiful at Seattle farmers markets this time of year. (See? Seasonal. Q.E.D.)
The notes to the original recipe say that the kale should be cooked just a bit and stay crisp-tender, but since I made this a day ahead of eating it the kale ended up pretty thoroughly soft, and I have to admit I really liked it that way. But the best thing about the soup? Is the way the potatoes cook until they start to fall apart--they get almost silky and the starch that they release thickens the soup a bit. Fantastic.
Adapted from The Splendid Table
2 medium yellow onions
3 small/medium cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil + a little more, divided
2 lb. potatoes
7 C stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tofurkey Italian sausages or similar (or 1/2 lb. chorizo or hot smoked sausage)
1/2 lb. kale (I used lacinato kale because I can't get enough of the stuff; curly kale is probably more authentic)
Crushed red pepper (or add 1/2 tsp to the pot)
Peel the onions and chop them finely. Peel the garlic. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large soup pot, add the onions, and press the garlic into the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the potatoes and stock or water to the pan. Then add salt and pepper, and the crushed red pepper if you don't have sensitive palates in the house. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, wash the kale, cut away the tough center ribs, and cut the leaves into thin strips. When the potatoes are tender, add the kale and simmer until the leaves are softened, about 15 minutes longer. (I put the kale in the soup, turned the heat off, cooled the soup and refrigerated it overnight, then reheated the next day. If you're making the soup the day you plan to eat it and you want the kale really soft, you may need to simmer a little longer. If you're making it a day ahead and want the leaves to stay a little crisp, don't add them until you start reheating the soup the day you're going to eat it.)
Meanwhile, cut the soysages into small dice (or crumble or dice the sausages), and saute in a small skillet in a little bit of olive oil until they are crispy. Then slide them into the soup.
To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle each serving with crushed red pepper to taste.
Makes at least 6 servings.