Russian Kale in Portuguese Soup
Decisions about which vegetables to grow in my plot are often heavily influenced by the pretty pictures on seed packets. Oh, that looks nice, I'll think to myself, without any thought whatsoever of what I'll actually cook with the vegetable once it grows. Such was the case with Red Russian Kale, a beautiful purple-veined, bluish-green plant.
I sowed the kale seeds late last summer -- a bit too late according to the instructions on the package -- and so I only ended up with a few purple leaves for a salad before the plants went into their dormancy for the winter. But I left them in the ground and a few weeks ago they started growing in earnest again. So I've been wondering, what should I cook with this kale? I wanted to do something more than just sauteing it for a side dish, but I wasn't sure what. In the meantime, those beautiful purple-tinted plants just kept on growing. And now they're starting to bolt.
Caldo Verde ("green soup") is a classic Portuguese dish that combines kale with potatoes and sausage. Michael found a recipe in the Savoring Spain & Portugal cookbook, and we adapted it as follows:
Caldo Verde / Green Soup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups of chopped kale
2 links of chicken chorizo sausage
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs. fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until they're soft. Add minced garlic and potato pieces; cook for a couple minutes and then add the chicken stock. Let this cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes can be broken with a fork. In a separate pan, cook the sausage. (Michael, the head chef on this one, took the sausage out of the casing and cooked it crumbled, but you could also cook whole sausage and cut it into slices). When the potato mixture is cooked, add the sausage bits and heat through. Add the chopped kale and turn off the heat. Season to taste and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy it with a good crusty bread!
Just as we started making this soup, Michael said, "I don't really like kale." So I think he was just playing along because I wanted to have a garden-inspired dish that would be blog-worthy. Two bowls of soup later, as he was sopping up every last little drop with a piece of bread, he said to me, "I like kale."