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Kale Soup (with a Digression on Chicken Stock)

I never cooked greens until a year or so ago; they just weren't part of my diet growing up, and I really didn't know what to do with them. I started experimenting with them, and now I use them a lot, and will throw them into all sorts of dishes. Here's one from last week.

Kale and Smoked Turkey Soup

Wash well two bunches of flat-leafed kale (might be called Lacinato or dinosaur kale.) Cut off the thick end of the stems, if any, and chop the rest coarsely. Set aside.

Throw some olive oil in a good-sized pot over low to medium heat. Add a diced onion and cook slowly until onion is soft, but not brown. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, minced.

Slice the meat off of a smoked turkey leg. Save the bone for something else. Dice the meat into maybe 1/2 inch chunks. Toss in with the onions and garlic and stir.

Chop up a couple of carrots and a few ribs of celery, including the leaves. Add that to the pot and stir. Let cook for a minute or two.

Add about 4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth*, some parsley from the garden, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and toss the kale on top. Cover and let the kale steam until soft.

Take a cup or so of leftover rice from the fridge and stir it into the soup. When rice is warm, ladle into bowls and serve.

*I used homemade broth cobbled together from the soup stock scrap bag in the freezer. All the raw chicken or turkey skin and trimmings that would normally get thrown away get tossed in there, along with rotisserie chicken carcasses and scraps of onions, carrots, celery and parsley. When the bag is full, it goes into the crock pot along with water to cover, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. I let it brood for for the day, strain out all the bits, then refrigerate until I can remove the solidified fat from the top. It then gets divided into one-cup portions in freezer containers. Those go into the freezer for whenever I need stock.

Before the Summer is Gone

Thought I’d better get this uploaded before the summer is officially over:

Late Summer Garden Pasta

Harvest all the ripe tomatoes and bell peppers from the patio pots. Grab a handful or two of basil and oregano while you're out there.

Get some fresh spinach from the organic grocer. Wash well, stem and coarsely chop.

Start a generous pot of water for the pasta. I like quinoa spirals, but that’s because I avoid wheat. Use what you like.

Heat a little olive oil in a large pan over low to medium heat. Grab a good-sized yellow onion from the pantry, dice, and toss in with the olive oil. Give it a good stir, then let it cook slowly for a few minutes. You want to "sweat" it, not brown it. Let the onion cook, stirring occasionally, while you prep the peppers.

Seed and dice the peppers. Toss them in with the onions and stir. Let cook while you dice the tomatoes.

Cut cherry, grape or little yellow pear tomatoes (they are so cute!) in half. Larger tomatoes chop coarsely, maybe one-half to one inch pieces. Set aside.

Take a couple of cloves of garlic from the pantry, place on cutting board and whack with the side of a large knife. Peel away the papery skin and mince. Throw in the pot with the onions and peppers. Stir., and let cook for a minute or two.

Add the tomatoes to the pot. Mince the basil and oregano, toss in the pot, and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Dump the spinach into the pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Leave it alone while you cook the pasta.

By now, the water should be boiling. Put in the dried pasta, stir, and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.

By the time the pasta is done, the spinach will be wilted. Give the the vegetables in the pot a good stir, then dump in the pasta. Toss it all together.

Serve in deep bowls as is, or with a sprinkle of shredded Pecorino Romano.


It Resembles Tabbouleh

Last night’s dinner came out very good; I’ll bring it to work for lunch today.

Quinoa Salad

from the store:
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 bunches green onions

from the garden:
  • random number of tomatoes, whatever is ripe
  • a good handful of parsley
  • a basil leaf or two
  • tiny sprig of mint

vinaigrette dressing* of your choice

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Usually, you need to wash it in a few changes of water to get rid of any saponins (responsible for a soapy taste and digestive distress), then cook it like rice, one part quinoa to two parts water for 15-20 minutes. Pop it in a big bowl to cool.

Quarter the cukes lengthwise, then thickly slice. Toss in with the quinoa.

Slice off the root ends of the onions then thinly slice the rest, using all the white and whatever of the green is crisp and bright. Toss in with the quinoa.

Cut tiny tomatoes in halves or quarters (I had grape tomatoes and little yellow pear tomatoes); larger tomatoes should be diced to about the same size as the babies. Toss in with the quinoa.

Mince the herbs. I use a large wooden bowl and a mezzaluna knife; works great. Toss in with the quinoa.

Pour in the vinaigrette and blend everything together. Chill for an hour or two so the flavors "marry." Serve cold or room temperature.

*I am no expert at salad dressings, but I used 1/2 cup olive oil, about 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, juice of the 1/2 lime that was lurking in the fridge, two cloves of garlic minced, plus salt and pepper, whisked together. It was just right.


Summer Noodles

Here’s a nice summery sweet and sour salad I’ve been experimenting with lately. It’s adapted from "Vinegar Noodles," a recipe I clipped out of a magazine, probably from Taste of Home. It reminds me of my mother’s cucumber and onion salad, crossed with a 1980s pasta salad. Adjust the sugar/vinegar balance to your taste.

Summer Noodles
a work in progress

  • 2-3 cups uncooked spiral pasta. I use tri-color brown rice pasta.
  • 1 or 2 cucumbers, about 1/12-2 cups, sliced very thin
  • 1 onion, about 1 cup, halved and sliced very thin
  • fresh parsley, chopped, maybe 1/4 cup
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced very fine, or use a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 c white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 c white sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp (1/2 tablespoon) brown mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Cook pasta to package directions. Drain.

While pasta is cooking, whisk together in large bowl


Add warm pasta and sliced vegetables, toss well. Refrigerate at least an hour.

If I had fresh dill, I'd probably add that, too.

Really good with leftover herbed pork roast. Cut pork into cubes and heat about two minutes in the microwave; while still warm, toss into the noodles. I'll bet it would be good with canned or fresh-cooked garbanzo beans or kidney beans, too.