Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weeknight White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup

The CSA box arrives very early on Friday mornings and I usually go out and retrieve it as a part of my morning routine. This last Friday, I brought the box in and took a quick look at the contents before heading off to work. I noticed the Lacinato kale sitting on top and for some reason my mind went right to soup. Now, that's because Lacinato kale has a thicker leaf and it needs more time than other greens to break down. Letting it simmer in a soup is an excellent way to soften the kale leaves.

We were introduced to Lacinato kale through the box. At first, I was not a big fan. But over the years I've learned that to appreciate it and have adjusted my cooking methods to deal with the thick leaves that resemble dinosaur skin giving it the nickname "Dino" kale. The best ways to prepare Lacinto kale:

  • Blanch the leaves in hot, salted water prior to preparation
  • Let the simmer in broth for a soup for awhile
  • Use an acid, like lemon juice, to break down the membranes. 

So on the way home from work, I stopped off at my local Trader Joe's and picked up veggie broth, a can of white beans, their "sausage-less" Italian sausage, and some good bread.

When I got home I unpacked the box and found that one of the suggested recipes was very much what I was planning. But my version was going to be the weeknight version.

While the broth was heating up, I stemmed the kale, cut it up into smaller strips, and added it to the stock. I added into the broth a bay leaf, a clove of minced garlic, a generous amount of black pepper, and a shake of red pepper flakes. Then I put in a few shakes of same various herbs.

The TJ's sausage is not the most appealing at first glance. But I sliced it up and browned it nicely in a small skillet. I wanted a crispy outside to stand up in the soup.

I added in some sliced carrots that were also in the box and the drained beans.

All of the remaining ingredient were added to the soup and I let it heat up. A green salad (lettuce, radishes, and avocado from the box) and bread were prepared to accompany the soup which went over well after a hectic week of work.

Here's my iPhone shot of the leftover soup that became my lunch on Saturday.