Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kale, Sausage, and Chickpea Soup

Kale - it's one of those vegetables that you've heard of, and you know it's probably good for you, but you don't know how to eat it. This recipe for Kale and Chickpea Soup came recommended by Crazy Aunt Purl although I cannot figure out where on her blog this occurred. But it did.

This soup was really great - filling, flavorful, colorful, and delicious of course. Spike didn't want to try it, but after a spoonful of broth mysteriously got past his lips (ahem) he ate the whole bowl. Soup as a texture seems to be a tough sell on this toddler, until he tries it.

On with the soup!

You will need:

1/4lb sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage - different types and flavors of sausage will yield different results as the sausage really makes this soup)
1 medium onion, chopped (I used one of my green Vidalia onions, yum!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
a bunch of kale
~4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 14oz can of chickpeas (or about 2 cups prepared from dry beans)

For preparing this meal I needed a pot with a lid, a cutting board area and knives, my not-so-trusty salad spinner and bowl, and some bowls to hold ingredients while they waited for their turn to go into the soup pot.

The first thing I did was wash the kale. I'm not sure where I got this idea, but when I wash leafy things I like to let them take a nice swim in a bowl of water for a few minutes to let some dirt settle out. Then I spray them with water and wash, then spin any remaining water out in the salad spinner.


So while the kale is swimming I wash the other produce and chop what I'll be using first - the onion and garlic. When I use green onions, I use the white and green parts but I do cut off the tips of the green and the rooty part of the bulb at the bottom.

It goes from this:


to this:


and then I just chop it up with a knife and sweep it into a bowl to wait. Since the onion and garlic will be cooked together, I put them in the bowl together. Somebody stop me!

Now at this point I cook the Italian sausage right in the soup pot. The original recipe calls for chorizo which must come pretty ready to eat since it only cooks for 3 minutes in their directions. Italian sausage, on the other hand, needs to be cooked, and so I cook it. I find that if I buy it as links that the casings are easy to cut off before cooking. It generally goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway - wash your hands after handling raw meat. I have it down pretty well, leaving the dishwasher open to receive the knife I open the casings with and only touching meat with one hand so I can use the other to turn on the water. I use a spatula to break up the sausage as it cooks, and remove the crumbled meat to a bowl when it's browned.

While the sausage is cooking I dice the potato and get to work on the kale. There's a thick stem running up the center of each leaf, and I slice those out and discard them along with any leaves that look like they're less than delicious.


That skinny green stick thing there on the left is one of the veins that I cut out of the center of the leaves.

After chopping, we have this!


Now. I throw the garlic and onions into the soup pot along with a little bit of olive oil and a small bay leaf and work on scrubbing the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon (just a little). The onions and garlic need to cook until they are soft over medium heat, so about 5 minutes. At this point everything needs to be ready to go in. First I add a splash of the chicken stock and really work on scraping the pan with the wooden spoon. This is the same idea as deglazing a pan - you want to get the stuff stuck to the bottom from cooking the meat up because it adds a lot of flavor to the soup. Then add the rest of the chicken stock, the kale, the potato, and the water. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Then add the sausage and chickpeas and simmer uncovered for a few minutes.


That's the best picture I got of the soup. After this I was too busy eating all of it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March Stashdown Report

March had great potential. I had to finish my Emerald Isle blanket to get credit in my Harry Potter crafting game, and that enormous yardage credit and the knowledge that it was a virtual guarantee is my only excuse for the yarn orders I placed in March. I bought two skeins of sock yarn from Alina Shea Creations early in the month. Then my husband offered to treat me to some yarn (enabler!!!) and, well, .... I went to Knit Picks. Then there was an Alina Shea spring sale and I was sunk (but it hasn't arrived yet.... so it doesn't count yet!).

I did wind off a skein of cotton to give away in a swap package, which I count as yards out. So there is that!

March yarn in: 7,533 yards
March yarn out: 4,404.7 yards
Year-to-date in: 18,041.75yards
Year-to-date out: 7,896.4yards

Yards to go until I break even: 10,145.35 yards