For my inaugural post of the new year, let me say emphatically that this recipe should not be misconstrued as any kind of resolution to eat healthier foods. I scoff at the very notion, even as I sit here sipping a calorie-laden adult beverage while I write. Indeed, by the time you get to the end of the post, I trust you will have been thoroughly disabused of such foolish ideas — although admittedly this a really delicious soup and I just had a healthy dinner kind of by accident.
No, posting a kale recipe on the first day of the new year has nothing to do with Lolly constantly twisting my arm, riding my back, chewing my ear, nipping at my heels, and any number of other anatomical metaphors, about the need to improve my diet. Rather, it has everything to do with someone at Williams-Sonoma forgetting to send us the recipe brochures for today’s class. So, as a service to all the lovely people who attended today, I am providing the recipe in this forum.
This is the second time today I made this dish, and I think it came off better the second time around — practice, and all that. Here are your ingredients to make 6-8 servings:
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 cups chicken stock
- Optional: 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
A couple quick notes on the ingredients: First, if you want to make this a vegetarian friendly dish, simply substitute vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. Second, one of the ladies at today’s class had a sensitivity to alliums, i.e. the onion and garlic. A suggestion to replace the flavors that those provide would be to add a cup each of additional diced celery and diced carrots, and toss in 1/2 tsp. of dry thyme leaves.
Preheat your oven to 450°. The first step will be to trim the cauliflower and cut it up into florets. Don’t worry about precision because this will all be pureed at the end. I did a fairly rough cut. In a mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 Tbsp. of the oil and season it with salt and pepper. Spread it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven until it reaches the color you want. Give it an occasional stir to prevent burning. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
For the next step, turn the oven down to 300°. Tear the kale leaves off the stems in rough pieces. Reserve half of them to add to the soup later. The rest will be tossed with 2 Tbsp. of oil, salt and pepper, then roasted just like the cauliflower, but without any stirring. In about 20-25 minutes these will turn into lovely kale chips that will provide a crunchy garnish for the finished soup.
Moving on to the main recipe, in a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil over medium high heat. Sweat the onion and celery for a few minutes until the onions are tender and translucent. You’re not going for caramelization, but if a little bit of that happens don’t worry about it — that tad of extra flavor never hurt anyone. Toss in the garlic next and cook for another minute. Next add your stock and roasted cauliflower and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Finally, add the uncooked portion of the kale leaves, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes until the kale is tender.
Next comes the fun part, pureeing the soup — an excuse to play with kitchen toys. At today’s class we used a VitaMix blender to do that job. Just remember, whenever you puree a hot liquid in a blender, work in batches and never never never never (are you getting the point?) never fill the carafe more than a third of the way at a time. An overfilled carafe of hot liquid will explode on you and cause very nasty, painful burns that will put a major damper on your cooking experience. Alternatively, I prefer to puree my soups at home with an immersion blender, in this case my handy Cuisinart Smart Stick. Here was the result.
By the way, in the background of this picture are the finished kale chips. You can also garnish with some toasted pine nuts, which are very delicious but also a bit pricey. To do that, cook them a dry sauté skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently to prevent burning. It will take a few minutes for the color to develop, but when that starts it progresses quickly, so watch them carefully or they will turn black in the blink of an eye.
So, here is our finished soup with the kale chip garnish and a swirl of olive oil just for giggles. We did, of course, munch it down with a big, happy (and healthy) grin on our faces.
But not too healthy, because here it what I made for appetizer and dessert.
Yeah, we can do some healthy stuff that tastes great too, but no new diets or gym memberships for me. New year resolutions are made for people with stiffer spines than me. Anyway, I wish you all happy cooking and a happy New Year. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!