Tuesday, May 10, 2011

seeing the bottom of the freezer (thanks to white bean kale soup)

With relatively minimal effort, I froze enough fruits and vegetables last Summer and Fall to carry over to Spring!  In fact, I did such a good job that I was afraid about a month ago that I'd end up having to use last year's stuff even as this year's came in.  But Spring here is fitful, we're in the lull between the end of the winter farmers' market and the start of the spring ones, and about all I'm harvesting from the garden yet are herbs and rhubarb.  So I'm reaching the bottom of the freezer.  Way down there were the delight of a few lost bags of strawberries and one of cranberries (my first attempt at strawberry cranberry pie proved the flavor combo is fantastic but I've got a little work to do perfecting things like liquid production and baking time...), and, oh, more kale.  Ok, the part I didn't do so well in the freezing department last year was planning for things like variety over the winter and early spring.  But as I complained to this person and that about so much kale, I kept getting reminded of how nicely it pairs with white beans in soup.  And there's an added bonus: white bean kale soup has the light bright look of Spring with the hearty warmth we still actually need in New England in early May. 

White Bean Kale Soup
Serves 6

1 package white beans
2 bunches frozen kale
1 medium onion
2-4 carrotts
2-3 stalks celery
1 clove garlic
3-4 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs each, fresh thyme and oregano
1 lb sausage (not pre-cooked)

Boil beans in 4-6 cups salted water until soft, about 2 hours
Roughly chop onion and saute in olive oil, in a large soup pot, until translucent, about 5 minutes
Smash garlic with the flat side of a knife, slip skin off, and add.  Saute 2-3 minutes longer.
Roughly chop celery and carrotts and add.  Saute five minutes longer.
Cut sausage into 1/2-1" chunks (hint: sausage is easier to cut like this if it's frozen; if you cut it frozen, do it when you start the beans and then let it thaw) and add to pot.  Saute, stirring frequently, until the sausage is browned, about five mnutes longer.  Pull the leaves off the sprigs of herbs and add.
Pour beans and their liquid and chicken broth into pot.  Salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, then simmer 30-60 minutes.