A few months ago a very dear friend of mine decided to move to London, England. Excited as I was for him, I felt concern for his nutrition and health, given the widespread aversion to fruits and vegetables in the UK. So bad, in fact, that diseases evocative of drearier Dickensian days are now epidemic.
My concern was lessened in an early e-mail exchange, assuring me that there were plenty of vegetables available to my friend. Disclosure: I’m writing about Michael C. Baumgaertner, of soup d’état fame, who evidently seems to be cooking up plenty of delicious produce.
BUT. There was one problem: even though Michael was riding his penny farthing to far-flung green grocers, there was no Kale to be found. Of course this is shocking to those of us from ever-evolving Brooklyn, where the kale-per-km^2 concentration is the highest in the world. Though it does seem that London is beginning to embrace Kale, 5 or 10 years after New York, fresh green is still thin on the ground.
This got me thinking about kale in my life. Did I need to use it as much as I did? Could I go back to the pre-kale days and use other greens in my cooking, without losing anything?
24 hours ago, I made a soup that answered these questions definitively. No. I am addicted* and Kale is here to stay.
Here is the customary cutting board shot of the spicy salame,hot cherry pepper, garlic, great northern beans and kale soup I made:
The soup was delicious and simple. First, I sliced the peppers, salame and some shallots, mashed a dozen cloves of garlic, and browned everything in the pot, liberally adding salt and mixed (green, pink, and black) fresh-ground peppercorns:
Next, I added 4 cups of chicken broth, the kale, and one can of drained great northern beans, letting it all simmer for 15 minutes, before enjoying a very delicious and very hearty bowl:
Yumm indeed. Spicy and warming, this soup just wouldn’t have been the same without Kale!
Bread eaten in accompaniment: A thick slice of the dense loaf in the picture above. Hearty, seedy and grainy, a great complement to the savory, baroque soup.
Listened to during preparation: I had an interesting, meandering conversation about corruption with a couchsurfer who was staying with me.
What I would do differently next time/possible variations: Amazingly – a little less heat. The half-dozen cherry hot peppers plus the red-pepper-coated salame ended up being fiery, which I loved, but slightly too much. 2-3 peppers would have been better with the same salame, or the same number of pepper with an unspiced salame/sausage.
I think this soup could easily substitute another white bean: broad, navy, butter or cannellini. I just happened to have the great northerns on hand.
*How to tell if you are a kale addict: do you find yourself hiding a bunch “for later” in the back of the crisper? do you find yourself putting a little bit of kale in your lunch sandwich “just to help you get through the day”? do you find yourself feeling grumpy with your family and friends if they don’t massage a kale salad long enough?