Kale for the end of winter

1st March, 2011 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Kale soup with Lemon and Rice

This is a good time of year for soup. This is also a good time of year to have a recipe on hand that can be cooked in one pot on any heat source in a fairly quick amount of time. In the event of a power outage, having something to whip up can be helpful.

Right now is a lean time for vegetables, we’re down to the root veggies and the winter greens and that’s about it for another month or so. This soup uses kale – a hearty winter vegetable full of vitamin C – and adds a hit of lemon for a bright flavor.

Kale is an interesting vegetable in that it seems to grow more or less everywhere and has for pretty much forever. Dishes featuring kale can be found in Asia, Africa, Scandinavia, South America and most points in between. There is evidence that kale was grown and consumed in ancient Greece and until the Middle Ages, it was the most commonly eaten vegetable in Europe.

The reasons for this are obvious: kale can be grown easily on very small amounts of land – a decent-sized planter will work in a pinch – and it grows in very adverse conditions. It’s also one of the few greens that improves in flavor after a hard frost.

While looking up information about kale, I learned that there is a whole culture devoted to kale in northern Germany. People will go on walking tours to inns between October and February – prime kale months – and consume cured pork, sausage, schnapps and kale. In some area a kale king and queen are named.

Besides being an excellent schnapps chaser, kale is a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin K and antioxidants. So, load up on the kale to keep away scurvy.

The recipe below calls for chicken broth, but vegetable broth could be easily substituted. Tofu or cooked chicken could also be added to in to make it more filling.

When preparing the kale, be sure to remove the tough rib running down the middle of the leaf. It doesn’t really break down in cooking and can be hard to chew. The greens hold together pretty well, so make sure the pieces aren’t too big.

The cook time is mostly to cook the rice. If your rice is already steamed, then throw it in at the end and serve. Most soups improve by sitting over night, but this one is tasty the same day.

Serve with a crusty bread and hope for good weather.

Kale Soup with Rice and Lemon
Serves 4

1/2 pound fresh kale
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown rice
Juice from 1 fresh lemon (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
1.    Coarsely chop kale, discarding thick stems
2.    In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and add onion, cooking until translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
3.    Add broth, kale, rice, lemon juice and zest to onions in soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until rice is tender. (Add more water or broth, if needed.) Season with salt and pepper.

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Posted on: March 1, 2011

Filed under: Dinner, Soup, Vegetarian

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