The Allure of Kale

Kale and Vegetable Soup

I don’t know if it is because I am from New Bedford, MA and Portuguese kale soup is part of my childhood or just because it is such a darn good vegetable, but I am totally smitten with kale. I just made this soup on the weekend when we got the first frost of autumn, and it couldn’t have been a better choice. In this aromatic soup base the kale becomes exceptionally tender while at the same time giving the soup wonderful body. Just for fun I added a half-teaspoon of smoked paprika and it gave it the meaty flavor that Portuguese linguica gives traditional kale soup. Fabulous! Hey, just because I am a vegetarian doesn’t mean that I don’t know how good meat can taste.

As a gardener it is easy to appreciate how much fun it is to grow this great leafy green vegetable. It actually improves when you wait until after the first frost to pick it. To freeze kale all you have to do it rip it off its stem and chop it into small pieces,then stuff the leaves in a ziplock freezer bag. No blanching or precooking needed.

I have two new kale preparations that I now enjoy: kale shakes and kale chips.  To make a kale shake I follow my son’s recipe.  Throw a few handfuls of kale and spinach in a blender along with some blueberries and a peach, pear, or banana.  Add some ice cubes and a little water and puree it all.  Pour it into a tall glass and enjoy.  It’s hard to get a more nutritious cleansing shake.

For kale chips wash and spin dry a bunch of kale that has been removed from its stems.  Tear it into 2-inch pieces and pat very dry with paper towel. Lay it on a baking sheet and drizzle on 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and toss it with your fingers until each leaf is coated.  Sprinkle on a little salt – not much. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes, turning over the leaves halfway through cooking.  The “chips” are done when they are crisp and golden on the edges.  Let cool and enjoy.

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