Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup

This soup is ridiculous.  So delicious, and so healthy... such a combination should be illegal.  You could eat your fill of this tastiness, and not feel a bit of guilt.  Except maybe that there's none left for anyone else in your family to eat.

This is also a great way to eat kale, if you're the type to be a little weary of dark, leafy greens.  In case you're new to the nutrition train, dark green vegetables are some of the most nutritionally-dense foods you can consume.  They have tons of vitamins A and C, lots of iron, and more calcium per serving than cow's milk (without all the nasty lactose, hormones, antibiotics, pus, and cruelty!).  I think the only reason "Got Greens?" never caught on is the fact that they make a far less attractive mustache.

But I digress!  My point is that kale is incredibly healthful, but can be a little bitter and tough compared to other greens like spinach, so it tends to scare people off.  Soup is the solution.  Not only does simmering get the kale nice and tender, and all those savory roasted veggies mellow out the flavor oh-so-nice, but since the broth is part of the meal, all the nutrients that would leach out during cooking still get eaten in the soup!  It's win-win.  Or win-win-win.  Whatever - it's kale ftw, peeps.

Roasting the veggies is key here, folks.  It caramelizes and sweetens, and is absolutely necessary for the flavor of this soup.  I didn't roast the garlic because I use that already-prepared kind in a jar, and out of the peel, it would burn in the oven; but if you have a bulb of fresh garlic cloves, you should roast it by cutting off the top of the whole bulb, drizzling it in a little olive oil, and setting it upright on the pan with the rest of the veggies.  Check it each time you stir the pan of vegetables, because you may need to remove it from the oven before the rest of the vegetables to avoid burning.  Then you squeeze out the meaty parts, finely mince them, and use as directed.

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup
Adapted from SimplyRecipes.com 
  • 3 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 1/2" thick slices (I have used sweet potatoes instead of the squash with good results; pretty much any sweet vegetable would work)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 8 cups vegan chicken broth (or 4 bouillon cubes, like No-Chicken)
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1-1/2 c. or 1 can white beans (like Great Northern or cannellini)
  • 1 tbsp. ground thyme (or use fresh if you have it, about 3 large sprigs)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • couple tbsp. olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Lightly oil a baking sheet, and place the carrots, squash, tomatoes, and onion in a single layer on the pan, and drizzle with a little more olive oil.  Lightly season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
  2. Roast vegetables until they are browned and tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
  3. Chop the roasted squash and carrot strips into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.
  4. Toss the tomatoes and onions into a food processor or blender, and add the garlic.  Purée until almost smooth.
  5. If using bouillon, dissolve in 8 cups of water.  Pour a little of the broth onto the roasting pan, and scrape off any caramelized brown bits.  Pour all the broth into a large soup pot.
  6. Add the kale, thyme, and bay leaf to the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes, until kale is tender.
  7. Add carrots, squash, and beans to the pot.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors.  I usually add a little more broth or water at this point if the soup is too chunky.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Makes 6-8 servings of soup.  Delicious when served right away, but tastes even better after it's been in the fridge for a day.

I love to serve this soup with a hearty bread or roll.  It keeps beautifully in the fridge for up to a week.

Happy eating.

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