Monday, January 24, 2011

Creamy Kale & Vegetable Soup

This recipe reminds me of a soup that my parents would make often when I was growing up, a simple brothy, creamy potato soup with green beans and homemade farmer sausage. They also liked to add sorrel when they had it. It was one of those soul-warming soups that was influenced by my dad's mennonite background.

Although this is a different take on that soup, it does have that same soul-warming quality. My recipe has more of an Italian flavour but it can be easily altered by changing the herb flavouring or the greens used. Some sorrel might be interesting once it comes up in the spring. Or, if you have spinach in the fridge, use that. But I LOVE kale so I always use kale.

Our luxury purchases are big chunks of parmesan cheese (my son fights for the last pieces in the grater!) I always save the rinds in the freezer to add flavour to soups and broths. I scrub the rind with a vegetable brush and then toss it into the soup to simmer. If you have one, definitely toss it in as it makes it even creamier. If you don't have a rind, adding a little handful of parmesan while it is simmering can add some of that flavour too.

Creamy Kale & Vegetable Soup
This is best served with some nice crusty bread. If you like italian sausage, slice it and include it when you are sauteeing the veggies. Or, use farmer sausage but leave out the rosemary.
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed or minced (about 2 tbsp minced)
1 tsp dried rosemary, chopped or ground with mortar & pestle
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled & diced (or 4-5 small ones)
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or bouillon mixed to label)
2 cups white beans, frozen or canned
1 head kale, chopped
1/4 cup cream
*optional: rind of parmesan cheese

1. Gently warm the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic, stirring it until it is fragrant and soft (do not let it brown!)
2. Add rosemary, crushed pepper and veggies and cook for a minute or two.
3. Add broth and beans and bring to a boil. (Add cheese or rind if you have it).
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add kale and simmer another 15 minutes.
5. Just before serving, add cream and check seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.