Beginning this blog with a posting about the end of our 2008 kale harvest is as good a place to start as any! We have a garden in southeast Michigan where I last harvested kale in mid-December during a short thaw between snowfalls during this very cold and snowy winter (see above photo). I am passionate about kale and its many varieties, the beauty of each variety's differently shaped leaves, its ease of growing and hearty, unique, delicious taste, the wide array of uses, the long time it stays fresh in your refrigerator, and last but not least, it's true star power in terms of many essential nutrients and health-promoting molecules.
Unlike store-bought fresh spinach, which seems to get slimy in the refrigerator within just days of purchase, kale seems to last for weeks and weeks. I harvested a huge bag of kale during a brief lull in our cold snowy winter last month in December, which I have been using over the last month. This is a photo of the last of that harvest. You can see how crisp and green (or red) and fresh the many shapes and sizes of the leaves look. It has been in my refrigerator in a plastic bag for almost four weeks. Being harvested well after a good frost (in fact being harvested after being covered with snow and even ice), the taste of this kale is almost sweet, certainly "kale-tasting" but without any harsh and strong flavors that so often cause people to simply prefer their kale as decoration on their plate.
What to do with my last kale? So many options, what else do I have in the house to use? Some potatoes from our Thanksgiving CSA share are still waiting to be put to use as is some vegetable broth in the freezer, a bit of milk, a few strips of frozen red peppers, and plenty of garlic from our garden. Not much else is needed for terrific potato-kale soup, a classic recipe that is easy, delicious, and healthy, healthy, healthy.
Recipe: Potato-Kale Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 quart vegetable broth (could use chicken broth or water)
4 cups of washed and chopped kale (large stems removed, but small stems are fine)
2-4 cloves of garlic, smashed or cut fine
2-3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil, add garlic to brown slightly (be careful to not burn). Add broth to soup pot and potatoes. Cook for 10-20 minutes (depending on size of potato pieces) until potatoes are almost tender. Then add kale leaves, red pepper pieces, and milk to soup pot. Heat until kale leaves are tender and soup is hot but not boiling. This won't take long if kale leaves were small and tender to begin with. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.
Serve with a salad, fruit, and fresh bread or muffins. Here you can see we ate this soup with some roasted Brussels sprouts (the final ones from our Thanksgiving CSA share) with some olive oil to dip them in, a pumpkin-flax muffin (recipe in an upcoming post on my other blog), and my husband's homemade "fire in the belly applesauce". Yum, yum!
Feel free to make any additions like adding onions, celery, or any other vegetables, even dried beans to this classic delicious soup.
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD