Friday, November 18, 2011

Portuguese Kale and Blue Potato Soup

I had been flirting with various recipes online for Portuguese Kale soup for a few weeks, but I couldn’t commit to making any particular one. Some had potatoes, others didn’t. Some had beans; others didn’t. Some had tomatoes; others didn’t. All of these are good ingredients in concept, but I wasn’t sure which combination I was in the mood to try.

Finally, I decided there was sufficient variety on the theme that I’d be just fine if I went my own way, and didn’t follow any one particular recipe (with apologies to the Portuguese people for what I’m sure is a bastardization of their proud national dish).

After a quick trip to Whole Foods (…unfortunately the epitome of “supermarket pastoral” per The Omnivore’s Dilemma…there are some things I sort of wish I didn’t know…), I had one lovely Italian sausage, carrots, onions, garlic, kale, and some gorgeous blue potatoes.

I decided to use only one sausage in order to flavor the soup, but not more than that in order to keep the focus on the lovely veggies. I also didn’t bother seeking out pre-packaged Portuguese or Spanish sausage; I stuck instead with the freshly-ground stuff in the butcher’s case, which happened to be Italian pork sausage.

The blue potatoes were an impulse buy; they were just so pretty that I had to get them. I’m not actually a huge fan of potatoes, especially in soup, but they were so pretty, and I knew my husband would appreciate the spuds (he’s a huge fan, in all culinary contexts).

Cooking the soup couldn’t have been simpler.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped onion
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
4 chopped blue potatoes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into pieces

I put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot, and then put a heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic, two chopped carrots, one chopped yellow onion, and the sausage, which I had freed from its casing, in the pot.

When the sausage was cooked and the onions translucent, I added a quart of low-sodium vegetable broth and six cups of water. I then added the chopped blue potatoes. I seasoned the soup with fresh sage and crushed red pepper (I used about a teaspoon of each, but you could very it according to your taste). I couldn’t believe how colorful and gorgeous the carrots and blue potatoes were together!

I let the soup come to a boil and then turned it down to low to simmer. I then ripped bite-size pieces of kale off the stems and added them to the soup while it simmered.

The soup would probably have been ready in about 30 minutes, but I let it cook on low until my husband came home from work, which probably brought the cooking time to about an hour.

Before I served it, I skimmed the fat off the top. There wasn’t much (because I only used one sausage), so it probably could have stayed in the soup. But I’m crazy like that.

The soup was warm, spicy, and comforting. Very nice for a chilly evening in. We didn’t have any crusty bread to dip in it, but it was kind of calling out for some. Recommend for next time. My husband also requested that I make polenta to serve with the leftovers this weekend. Yum! Will do, honey.

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