Jan 7 2009

What’s for Dinner

Veggies: collard greens, kale, bok choy, radicchio, a bunch of leeks, a bunch of carrots, a small fennel, a bag of spinach, a butternut squash, a broccoflower, four oranges.

Tonight I’m actually making the chicken pot pie that I talked about making (but didn’t) a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I think I’ll try using the squash in this recipe for North African Bean and Squash Soup from the New York Times. I still have some black eyed peas left over so I’ll make those with the kale, bacon, and onion, for lunch. The bok choy will be another lunch. Friday night I’m thinking pork chops smothered in spicy collard greens, with roasted carrots and fennel. Saturday I have plans with friends, so dinner will be leftovers or delivery; Sunday I’m thinking this stirfry with the broccoflower, maybe with a spinach salad on the side.

That leaves the radicchio and the leeks. There’s a recipe in the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook for fettuccine with radicchio that I’m a bit skeptical of, but I think I’ll give it a try on Monday. The leeks, I don’t specifically know right now; but I actually really love leeks so I’m sure I’ll find a use for them.

Jan 6 2009

A Nice Winter Vegetable Soup

I thought this vegetarian soup was pretty “meh” when I made it last night, but the leftovers today were delicious. The recipe came tucked in our veggie box, with attribution to Cheryl Quantz of San Mateo. I thought I’d post it here for my own future reference, and for anybody who might be interested in a healthy, hearty, and frugal soup (kale is generally $1.99 a bunch at Whole Foods, probably cheaper elsewhere). Cheryl notes, “If possible let the soup sit for an hour or so before serving to allow the flavors to further develop,” but I think it needs longer than that. Overnight is best.

This picture is misleading; we were down to the last dregs of soup by the time I thought to snap a photo, and Robin and I had already slurped out all the kale. So imagine this thickened by lots more greens.

Cheryl’s recipe also says, “The ingredients of this soup supply plenty of flavor, so use water to prepare a simple stock by simmering the stems of the kale.” That’s exactly what I did: I cut up an onion and simmered it along with the kale stems for an hour. I have no doubt that real home-made chicken stock would improve the soup—it improves everything—but that would detract some from the frugality (as well as rendering the soup non-vegetarian, for those of you who swing that way). Anyway, the improvised stock does work.

I think next time I might cut up a little bit of kielbasa and toss it in.

Kale and Potato Soup with Red Chili

1 bunch kale
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 bunch leeks, washed and chopped (the original recipe calls for “1 medium red or yellow onion” but I used a bunch of leeks instead, and I recommend it: potato-leek soup is a classic combo for a reason)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced (I was down to the ends of a head of garlic, so I only had four cloves, and I don’t recommend it. Use all six.)
1 small dried red chili, seeded and chopped, or 1/2 tsp chili flakes (I used the chili; I was worried that it would add too much heat but actually there was no appreciable heat. But chilis, of course, vary.)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 lb potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into bite-size pieces (I used Yukon Gold because that’s what I had, but red potatoes would be nice too)
2 tsp nutritional yeast (the recipe notes that this is optional; I actually did buy and add the nutritional yeast, which is apparently different from regular yeast, but I’m not sure it did much for the soup. Oh, wait, I have Google—I can go see what nutritional yeast is supposed to do. Hmm. It’s supposed to add vitamins and a flavor similar to parmesan cheese.)
Interestingly, I also threw in a couple of parmesan cheese rinds, because I’ve been saving them and they’re supposed to be good in soups. I think if you’re not using “real” stock, and you don’t need your soup to be vegan, this is a good idea.
7 cups stock
Crème fraîche or sour cream (optional, and I didn’t use it. It didn’t seem like the kind of soup that would be particularly good with sour cream.)

Tear the kale leaves off the stems and, if you want, make a simple stock with the stems. Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces, wash them, and set them aside.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat; add the leeks, garlic, chili, bay leaf, and salt, and saute until the leeks are softened but not soggy, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and the yeast (if using), plus a cup of the stock. Stir together, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the kale, stir, cover, and steam until it is wilted (stirring occasionally). Pour in the rest of the stock and add a generous grinding of pepper, plus the parmesan rind if you’re using that. (This is where I’d throw in the kielbasa, too.) Put the heat on high and bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low or low as necessary to keep it at a simmer. Cook until potatoes are soft.

Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the potatoes by pressing them against the sides of the pot. This will make a unifying background for the other flavors. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

Let the soup sit at least an hour and preferably overnight. Serve hot, with a spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream if you are a braver woman than I.

Jan 5 2009

What’s for Dinner

We’re back from my grandfather’s funeral in Texas (it was wonderful to see all my aunts and cousins, even though our visit was too brief to really do much catching up: and I was reminded yet again that flying with a one-year-old is a really grueling experience). And waiting for us at home was a box full of kale, collard greens, radicchio, leeks, lettuce, carrots, bok choy, oranges, potatoes, and a butternut squash.

Last night we had pasta with radicchio, squash and browned butter, but honestly it’s not a meal I plan to repeat: the recipe sounded better than the reality proved to be. I also braised the bok choy with garlic and Robin ate it happily for lunch.

Tonight I’m going to make a vegetable soup out of the kale, potatoes, and leeks, and I have black eyed peas soaking to cook with the collard greens. Sam’s not a big fan of the greens-and-peas meal but Robin and I both like it, so it’ll probably make lunch for a couple days for us. A little salad of the lettuce and carrots can be another lunch. And Robin’s already devoured most of the oranges, so that pretty much takes care of the veggies!