Friday, May 23, 2008

White Bean and Kale Soup with Turkey Sausage: Kale and Hearty

(In celebration of Memorial Day, this will be my last post until Tuesday. Hope y’all have lovely long weekends, and don’t forget the sunscreen!)

My experience with leafy greens has been somewhat limited. Salads and simple sauteés mostly, with the occasional collard green experiment thrown in to alleviate the boredom. Oh, and once, I cooked chard for so long it burned to the pot, causing a chemical/produce scent unrivalled by even the foulest San Joaquin poop lagoon. I still owe my old roommate R a new pot for that, plus a few years in nasal therapy.

Why have I never keened on to those heralded emerald veggies? I could resort to, “My Mama never made ‘em,” and it would be true. Clichéd, but true. More truthfully though, they never did much for me. For years, I pegged all leafy greens as tarted-up lettuce – crisp, crunchy, and destined to live eternity out as sandwich toppers. Every time I sauntered through a supermarket, I callously overlooked them, contented to live happily with my carrots and mushrooms.

Then, this week, I met kale. Kale and I knew each other through friends and the infrequent restaurant side dish, but we never really sat down for an extended meal. That changed with Closet Cooking’s White Bean and Kale Soup with Turkey Sausage. Nuanced, filling, and over-the-moon healthy, it made me want to develop a real relationship with kale - one where we could stroll on the beach and whisper love songs by the light of the moon. Of course, eventually one of us would be mercilessly consumed, but it doesn’t mean we couldn’t give it a shot.

As ever, there are one or two (or three) things to know about this recipe:

1) When you first chop the kale, odds are it will barely fit in the pot. (My gigantic dutch oven was just big enough.) Give it a few minutes. It’ll wilt to about 1/8th of the size.

2) You may need more or less stock/water. Seven cups of stock, plus two cups of precious agua did it for me.

3) The scent is outrageously good, and it will make other people want your food. A legal temp almost mugged me at the office microwave yesterday.

This kale encounter has encouraged me to try some of its jade-hued kin. Who knows? Next week it could be mustard greens. The week after that, amaranth. Then ... I don't know. I'm still learning.

Happy vacation!

White Bean and Kale Soup with Turkey Sausage
14 cups of soup or 9 1-1/2 cup servings
Adapted from Closet Cooking.

1 pound Italian turkey sausage (casing removed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can white beans
1 bunch kale (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 parmigiano reggiano rind (optional)
* chicken stock (I needed 7 cups of 99% fat-free stock and 2 cups of water. – Kris)

1) In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat until browned, breaking it up with the back of a spoon as you go. Remove to a plate when finished.

2) In the same skillet, heat oil over medium or medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook between 7 and 10 minutes, until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. Cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

3) Add sausage and the remaining ingredients, ending with enough chicken broth to just cover everything. Cover, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drop heat to a simmer and cook between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

4) Fish out bay leaf and cheese rind. Serve. Garnish each bowl with parsley and grated parm.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
224.4 calories, 7.4 g fat, $0.94

1 pound Italian turkey sausage: 700 calories, 40 g fat, $2.50
1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, $0.12
1 onion: 46 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.18
2 cloves garlic: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.10
2 stalks celery: 11 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.50
2 carrots: 50 calories, 0.3 g fat, $0.20
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes: 163 calories, 0 g fat, $0.99
1 14.5 ounce can white beans: 482 calories, 1.2 g fat, $0.50
1 bunch kale: 335 calories, 4.7 g fat, $0.98 (I estimated this at 10 cups. - Kris)
1/2 teaspoon oregano: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 bay leaf: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
1/4 red pepper flakes (optional): negligible calories and fat, $0.01
salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
7 cups 99% fat-free chicken stock: 105 calories, 7 g fat, $2.33
2 cups of water: negligible calories and fat, $0.00
TOTAL: 2020 calories, 66.9 g fat, $8.47
PER SERVING (TOTAL/9): 224.4 calories, 7.4 g fat, $0.94


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