The chill is in the air telling us that soup season is upon us. Nothing says comfort like a steaming bowl of goodness. It is still Autumn so thinking seasonal we have hearty greens and root vegetables gracing the booths at the farmers market. With that in mind I put together the combination of potatoes, kale and spinach and made a hearty and delicious soup. You may think the color of this dish is a bit intense but please do not let this deter you from trying the recipe. It is packed with flavor and contains ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.
Let’s take a minute to talk about kale. This attractive, non-heading member of the cabbage family has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. It is happiest growing in colder climate although it can survive in warmer weather as well. It has a hearty frilly leaf that comes in many colors and varieties with a tough center stalk that should be removed before cooking. Kale is very versatile as it can be eaten raw, sautéed, stewed, roasted or fried. In addition, it is a star on today’s list of super nutrient-rich foods.
Also hailed for its nutritional value, spinach was brought to the United States by the Spaniards during the 8th century. A favorite muscle builder of “Popeye the Sailorman” , it is rich in vitamins A and C as well as iron just like kale. I was an unusual child, I suppose, as this dark leafy green has been a favorite of mine throughout my life (perhaps Popeye influenced me). I eat it often as it too can be eaten raw or cooked and pairs well with so many foods. It is a tender green so it does not require a long cooking time. Be aware it can be overcooked which leads to slimy so if you desire it cooked, just wilting is sufficient.
Today I paired these power-house greens with the hearty potato (I used Yukon gold but any variety would work), added a splash of balsamic vinegar to brighten the flavors and wow! I smoked it up with bacon for added flavor punch, but if a vegetarian preparation is your bend, I added some adjustments that will help you make the substitutions.
Simple, nutritious and delicious, it goes down like this.
POTATO SOUP w/ GREENS Serves 4-6
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
5 slices of smoky bacon (I like Nueske’s apple wood smoked), or 2T extra virgin olive oil if you desire vegetarian
1c yellow onion, diced
2 red jalapeno peppers, finely diced
(I used the entire pepper, seeds and membrane as my peppers were not that hot) or for vegetarian, substitute 1 chipotle pepper, diced and ½-1t of the adobo sauce they come packed in. This would give you that smokiness if you are not using bacon or you could use 1t of red pepper flakes. Adjust the amount to taste.
1T fresh garlic, minced
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, cut in one-inch chunks
4-5c chicken or vegetable stock
½ c dry white wine
6c fresh kale leaves, stems removed and torn
6c baby spinach
3T balsamic vinegar
12 pieces of baguette, cut in ½-inch pieces
½ oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- In a large soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp (heat the olive oil). Remove bacon and set aside.
- Add the onion and jalapeno (or chipotle and adobo) to the rendered bacon fat (or olive oil) and cook until soft. Season with salt. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the potatoes, stock and white wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the kale and continue cooking, covered for another 15 minutes.
- Add the spinach and cook another 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are soft and greens are completely wilted. Remove from heat.
- Using an immersion blender puree the mixture until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or food processor. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your appliance.
- Take the pureed mixture back to the stove in its pot, taste and season with salt, to taste. Add 2T of the balsamic vinegar and taste again. Adjust if needed.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush them lightly with olive oil. Bake them on the middle shelf of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle each slice with the Parmesan cheese, return to oven and bake until cheese has melted, 1-2 minutes.
- Distribute soup into bowls, garnish with the reserved bacon, crumbled and/or put a few drops of balsamic vinegar on the top. Serve 1-2 slices of the bread with each. If you like you could also drizzle a bit of good quality extra-virgin olive oil around before adding the toasts and bacon.
One thing I failed to mention earlier is simmering soup on the stove will fill your home with fabulous aromas and that in itself feels like a warm blanket. So grace your home and fill your belly with the warmth and flavors of the season. This can be made ahead as soups and stew are often better the following day allowing the flavors to marry. For dinner or in your lunchbox, this is guilt-free eating that will nourish your body and soul.
Make some soup today, make it seasonal, nutritious and comforting, but most of all, have it come from your heart. Until next time, stay warm and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. From my kitchen to your hearts, Queen Jeanne