Kale soup is just one of the many ways to enjoy this overlooked vegetable.
Good Old Kale
Kale has been around for a really long time. There is reason to believe that kale and collards have been cultivated for the last two thousand years. The first cabbages were the leafy kind, as we know kale to be. It hasn't been determined if these cabbages originated in Asia Minor or the Mediterranean but it is known that they came from those regions. The Greeks cultivated and ate kales and collards, as did the Romans. The Romans were probably responsible for introducing kale to the northern Europeans and since that time, these early cabbage ancestors were later developed into head cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Hardy and Healthy
Although Kale can grow just about anywhere, it grows best in slightly cooler climates. Cooler weather lends a sweeter taste to kale and an unexpected frost can help this hardy plant taste sweeter as well. You can find kale being used in just about every cuisine you can think of, but as a soup ingredient it is particularly loved in Portugal and Brazil, where Caldo Verde is a popular national dish.
You Can Eat the Pretty Stuff, Too
If you happen across some brightly colored kale in your supermarket, it might be labeled "Ornamental kale" and that is generally how it is used. Restaurants love to chiffonade these pink, lavender, red, or blue kale leaves and toss them around on plates to add vibrant color to their pricey little appetizers. Yeah, you can do that, too, but it's a terrible waist of perfectly good kale. You can cook these lovely kale leaves any way you usually cook kale, but if you toss some into your kale soup, you'll get some great color along with the great taste of kale.
Basic Kale Soup
Kale can be added to just about any soup you have on hand, but it really works great in bean soups. I like to use cannellini beans for this recipe.
- 2 cups of prepared cannellini beans
- 4 cups of raw kale chiffonade
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 4 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
- 1 ounce of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- A pinch of dried marjoram if you have it on hand
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sweat the onions in the olive oil until they are translucent.
- Add the garlic and sauté until it becomes fragrant.
- Add the kale and sauté until just wilted.
- Add three cups of the broth and one and a half cups of the beans to the pot.
- Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper and simmer.
- While the soup is simmering, place the remaining beans and broth in a blender and puree.
- Add the puree to the soup. This will add body to the soup.
- Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, tasting and adjusting seasonings.
This soup uses chorizo sausage for flavor. Traditional chorizo sausage from Portugal and Spain are pre-cooked and will be tossed directly into the soup pot. The chorizo that is most readily found in the States is usually uncooked. If you can find the imported sausage, then by all means use it for this tasty soup. If not, cook the chorizo completely before adding it to the pot.
- 2 ounces of olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 10-ounce chorizo, cooked and diced
- 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 8 cups of vegetable stock
- 1 pound of kale, stems removed and cut chiffonade
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sweat the onions in the oil until translucent.
- Add the garlic and most of the chorizo to the onions (save enough chorizo to garnish the soup bowls)
- Sautee the garlic and chorizo for two or three minutes.
- Add the potatoes and the vegetable stock.
- Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove from heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or let the soup cool and puree in a blender.
- Pour the soup back into the pot and add the kale.
- Bring the soup back to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer until the kale is tender.
- Taste for seasonings.
- Garnish with reserved chorizo.