Food Porn Chapter 3 - Vegetable Kale Soup
I'm usually busy deep-cleaning the homestead on Thursdays, but I decided to crank out a soup before I cleaned the kitchen today. I'm sharing this recipe because it's a Dastardly Original, and because it's wicked good, kid. Soups are like, my own special super power.
Heh! Souper Power!
Dastardly's Kale Vegetable Soup
2 - Cups Fresh Celery, rough chopped
2 - Cups Fresh Carrots, rough chopped
1 - Large Red Onion, diced
3 - Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 - 10 oz. Package Pre-Washed & Cut Kale
2 - Large Bay Leaves
2 or 3 - TBS. Olive Oil, divided
1 - 32 oz. Carton Vegetable Stock
1 - Cup Water
1 - Cup Vegetable Juice (like V8)
1 - 14.5 oz. Can Diced Tomatoes in Juice
2 - 14.5 oz. Cans Garbanzo Beans (or any other bean you're into), rinsed & drained
Sea Salt & Fresh-Ground Pepper to taste (I ended up using 2 tps. of salt because my vegetable juice was "low sodium", which makes me wonder WTF it was doing in this house!)
Fresh Lemon for garnish / finish
Slick a large pot (mine is a 4.5 quart dutch oven, I think) with enough olive oil to glaze the bottom and heat it over medium heat until it "shimmers", but (WAY!) before it smokes. Add the diced onion and the bay leaves and saute, stirring frequently, until both are softened.
Add the diced tomato, stock, water, vegetable juice, salt & pepper, and turn the heat up to get your soup base up to a rolling boil. Once it's there, stir it up, put the lid on, and turn the heat down to about medium-low and let it bubble vigorously, covered, for a good 20-25 minutes. What you really want to do is tone down the acidic bite on all that tomato and cook in those minimalist seasonings.
After 25 minutes, add the chopped carrots, let those cook in for about 5 minutes (covered, at a vigorous bubble) before you add the celery and the beans. Cover, with heat still on medium-low, and go prep your kale!
This part seems like a PITA, but it's part of why this soup tastes so incredible. You cook the kale seperately. So, in another large, lidded pot, heat up the rest of that olive oil over medium heat, and rinse your pre-washed kale in a colander. (I know, I know, why buy pre-washed if you're going to wash it again? Because it will leave just enough water on the leaves to cook it up so that you don't have to use a ton of oil on the saute, plus you can pick through it and remove anything gross. There is always something vile in a bag of pre-washed greens, trust me. If you're lucky, it's just a slimy piece of whatever your greens are. If you're unlucky, it's one of those hideous earwigs, which I found in my baby spinach once, and have totally NEVER gotten over!) Just before you add the kale, plop your crushed garlic into the heated oil and swirl it around. Dump in the rinsed kale, toss it around so that the oil and the garlic coat it fairly uniformly, and drop the lid on, letting it steam for about 10 minutes total, stirring occasionally to make sure it wilts evenly. You want that kale softened, but still a very vibrant green!
This means your soup has been cooking, covered, at a fairly strong boil, for about 15 minutes by the time your kale is done. You want those veggies cooking at a fairly high temp for kind of a short time so they retain their fresh snap, but the next step is really where YOU decide if the soup is cooked enough.
Take your kale off the heat, and, if you can, transfer it to a large bowl so that it cools enough to handle. Dump it out on your cutting board and run a large knife through it to chop up any especially large stems, and make the pieces small and uniform. Drop them into your soup and simmer for another 5-10 minutes so that the kale flavors marry with your soup. Test your soup for doneness and seasoning, and add either time or seasoning if necessary. (a tsp. of "Old Bay" seasoning, or several grinds of Trader Joe's "South African Smoke" will turn this into a subtley different soup!)
Serve with a fresh lemon wedge which diners can squeeze into their soup and stir in for a nice, additional fresh kick.
I like this recipe because the chick peas add enough protein to make it a one-pot meal, and if you wanted to un-veganize it, and pan fry some chorizo or grill up some lemon pepper chicken or something and add it in at the last minute, it'll still kick ass, and play nicely off the soup's flexible character. It's perfect as-is, of course, and I usually pair up a small bowl with a sammich (Tonight, that sammich'll be a killer egg-salad on rustic whole grain for me!)
Oh, and if you wanted to make this a slow-cooker soup, saute the onions, combine them with all the other soup ingredients except the kale/garlic, and cook on low for 8 hours. Make the kale as directed and add it into the soup for the last hour or so of cooking. Loves me some crock-pot cooking on the hot summer days, when I don't want to steam up the kitchen (I've been abusing the A/C for about 18 hours now - don't judge, it's super humid), as much as those bitter winter days when I'm far from home, and want to come home to delicious "like home" aromas. :-)
Hope you guys love this soup as much as I do!