New Year’s resolutions: so easily – nay! so willingly – forgotten. “What’s one more day of not going to the gym?!” we exclaim. “Will one more tiny square of chocolate really add that much to those little fat bundles on my thighs?” we coax ourselves. These feeble excuses are exactly why this year I’ve decided to keep the resolution bar low. In 2009, I solemnly swear to:
1. Dutifully and meticulously apply hand lotion, and,
2. Eat my vegetables.
Although the first point seems by-the-by – as this is a cooking, rather than a beauty, blog – I must say that were my life less intertwined with food my hands would be smooth alabaster instead of the cracked, blotchy red horrors they are. Anyhow, the second point is very relevant.
See, despite my love of vegetables – really, I do love them! Even at the tender age of 6 I appreciated Brussels sprouts – I am very ignorant about them. I’m much more comfortable with things starchy and buttery. But, this year, I promise to learn more about vegetables – and eat them.
I spent the holidays in Southern California where my mother lives – Glorious! Blissful! – and returned to Boston on New Year’s Day, my holiday book-ended by frightful cold and snowy drifts. “Sand yesterday, today snow,” I mumbled sulkily as I burrowed my head deeper into my coat’s hood.
Days later, I am still hiding in my long, shapeless, puffy coat, clodding around in most unfashionable boots better suited to Frankenstein than to a worshiper of high heels. But, despite how bothersome winter is, there are some simple pleasures the season affords, such as soup.
The promise of a steamy bowl of soup can only be fully appreciated when the sky is slate gray and the wind lashes violently at the bare-limbed trees. And so, with these conditions readily available, I looked forward to making dinner. Plus, with my vegetable resolution in place, I felt I had a world of opportunities before me: Carrot! Broccoli! Zucchini! The produce aisle beckoned! “Maybe my 2009 goal is within reach!” I thought to myself – as I massaged gooey Neutrogena lotion into my broken knuckles.
Inspired by some kale chips in this month’s issue of Bon Appétit, I decided on cannellini and kale soup with Spanish chorizo. Soups, in case you were wondering, are very easy to make. The holy trinity of vegetables – onions, carrots, celery – should live in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer since they are the foundation of many a hot bowl. Chicken broth is also a must – either homemade or the boxed stuff will do – and your vegetable of choice. A pork product is great, too, as foundation or garnish (bacon, pancetta, sausage, etc.).
Kale, dark green and luxuriously bumpy, like croc skin.
WHITE BEAN & CHORIZO SOUP with KALE
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 celery rib, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon freshly minced thyme leaves)
4 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, one can pureed, the rest drained and rinsed
1 bunch kale (about 2 pounds), stems removed
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
4 ounces Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Optional: Parmesan cheese for topping
-Preheat oven to 250˚F. Select 6 kale leaves from the bunch and cut in half lengthwise. Rub each leaf with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes. Reserve.
-Coarsely chop remainder of kale and set aside.
-On medium heat, heat oil in a 4-quart-capacity pot. Add onion, celery, carrot, 3 teaspoons salt, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent and celery and carrot are softened, 10 to 15 minutes.
-Add the three cans of drained and rinsed beans, increase heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add pureed beans and 3 cups broth and bring to a boil.
-Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chorizo on medium-high heat until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to a paper towel-lined plate. Add chopped kale and 1 teaspoon salt to now empty skillet and sauté until kale is slightly wilted and deep green, 3 to 5 minutes. Add kale to soup and simmer about 15 minutes.
-Season soup with salt and pepper and add lemon juice. Serve, topping soup with chorizo chips, toasted kale, and fresh Parmesan crumbles.
Reheat soup – adding more chicken broth if needed – and serve topped with a poached egg and chorizo.