Last week’s stretch of cold, rainy days put me in a soup-making mood, and after several evenings of dicing and simmering, I noticed a theme emerge. Pretty much every pot of soup I made got topped off with a generous quantity of chopped kale.
This versatile vegetable, considered an oddity just a decade or so ago, has steamed, sautéed, roasted and rawed its way into many cooks’ hearts, including mine. The dark green leaves hold up to heat better than spinach but cook faster than collards. They add substance without being too fibrous, and they offer just a hint of sweetness.
Kale is so mild-tasting, in fact, that even greens-haters can hardly put up a fuss when a little of it ends up mixed into a salad, stew or pot of soup. (No wonder Anderson Cooper is so pale; he has no chlorophyll in his system.) Those of us who actually like our leafies, on the other hand, welcome the way kale enlivens stand-by recipes with extra color and texture.
It was in this spirit that I threw in a few handfuls of gorgeous Lacinato kale, acquired at Morningside Farmers Market the Saturday before, to a white bean soup and discovered a new favorite. Somehow the added green transforms what has always felt like a hardy half-meal—in need of at least a salad or some steamed broccoli to make it whole—into a main course. We’ll be making this soup at least a few more times before spring arrives.