The Food Explorer hits all my foodie book buttons as I love reading about botany, food history and travel, and it has plenty of all three. I was given mangoes from a friend's yard recently, I packed seedless grapes for lunch this week, and I can't go too long without avocado toast. that these foods are part of the vast selection of produce from beans to watermelon, that we have available to enjoy today, we can thank David Fairchild who brought these and many other crops to America from around the world in the late nineteenth century. I had no idea that kale came from Croatia (called capuzzo by the people of Austria-Hungary) and that he introduced the gorgeous cherry blossoms to Washington DC. Although there were a few dry spots in the book, it is a fun read and even a bit of a nail-biter reading about Fairchild's exploits and his brushes with the law, disease, and bureaucratic red tape. There are two kinds of people, those who eat to live and those who live to eat and I think the later group can't help but be charmed by this interesting book. Many thanks to my Cook the Books co-host Simona of briciole who sent me a list of books as suggestions for my pick as it might not have come across my plate (pun intended) otherwise.
For my book-inspired dish, I had to go with kale, probably one of the most polarizing ingredients--at least among people I know. they either seem to love it and eat it regularly, or call it bitter and avoid it at all costs. I am closer to the love camp--if it's Tuscan kale (aka black or lacinato kale) and if it's prepared well. I like a good kale salad, love it sauteed in lots of garlic with a runny egg, and also I enjoy it in soups.
When it comes to kale soups I like the humble Portuguese Caldo Verde, simple and delicious. I decided to look to Nigel Slater's Classic Caldo Verde from TheGuardian.com as my starting point and make a vegan version.
Nigel says, "In its purest form, this heart-warming Portuguese broth contains nothing more than potatoes, garlic, couve gallego (a type of kale) and water. A soup for hard times. Even with freshly picked kale and new garlic without a hint of bitterness, the basic soup will warm and fill us, but little more. Most people will be looking to take this soup upscale by swapping the water for stock and adding some onion, bay leaves or smoked paprika. Many will add slices of chorizo."
Cook a finely chopped onion and clove of garlic in a little olive oil for 2 minutes. Add 3 or 4 large potatoes, peeled and diced, cook them for a minute or two, then pour in a litre of water or stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft (if they break up then all to the good). Thickly slice 150g of spicy sausage then fry briefly in a nonstick pan. Remove the sausage, leaving the fat behind, and drop it into the soup. Finely shred 2 generous handfuls of kale and stir it into the hot soup. Serve with a small pool of olive oil floating on the surface. Serves 4.
Traditionalists will make this with water, but vegetable or chicken stock deepens the flavour immeasurably. The trick is knowing when to stop tinkering. Caldo verde was a soup born to cope with an empty store cupboard, and gussying it up too much will lose its rustic soul.
Complete as it stands, this warming greens-based broth could be embellished with a few ingredients of your choice. Hide a round of garlic toast in the bottom before you ladle in the broth; introduce some cooked pasta – perhaps the diminutive rice-shaped orzo – or stir in some rinsed canned cannellini beans. Kale is standard, but any of the brassica family will work – the tougher and more fibrous the better.
Deb's Notes: I wanted a vegan but still meaty version so I started by slicing and cooking some Field Roast Vegan Italian Sausages in olive oil until the sides were browned and slightly crispy. I scooped out the sausage to drain on paper towels, then tipped the oil into a large soup pot, adding finely sliced onion and a clove of minced garlic and sauteing about 10 minutes until the onions started to brown. I added a couple of dashes of hot smoked paprika and sliced baby Yukon Gold potatoes and sauteed for another minute before adding 6 cups of non-chicken broth. I simmered the soup for about 15 minutes until potatoes were soft, then added the cooked sausage and one bunch of Tuscan kale, finely sliced. I simmered the soup for another 10 minutes before tasting for seasoning with salt & black pepper.
Notes/Results: A tasty bowl of soup that could almost pass as meat-filled with the crispy bites of sausage. I like the slight bitterness of the kale and the sweet, creamy little potatoes. A classic soup, not too fancy. Next time I'll try Nigel's trick of the slice of garlic toast in the bottom of the bowl. I would happily make this again.
The deadline for this round of Cook the Books is tomorrow, September 30th and I'll be rounding up the entries on the CTB site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for our October/November pick, The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec, hosted by Claudia of Honey From Rock.
I am linking up this Nigel Slater recipe with I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week. Our chance to cook with any of our 19 featured chefs.
And finally linking up to September's Foodies Read. You can check out the September Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.
Now let's look into the Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays Kitchen and see who is here.
Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Asian Quinoa Slaw Salad and said, "This festive Asian Quinoa Slaw will make a beautiful presentation at any get together. It's a colorful healthy recipe that includes shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, crunchy pecans, raw sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chopped green scallions and is mixed with a generous portion of flavorful tricolored quinoa and Asian dressing."
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought Irish Beef and Root Vegetable Stew and said, "I was told this is a very easy recipe and prep. Oh. My. I wish I could share the aroma of this stew as it brewed. Incredible. I highly recommend this Irish Stew. This was prepared in the Instant Pot but I'm sure it could be adapted to a Dutch Oven....not sure if it would be as tender though."
Thanks to Judee & Tina for joining in this week!
About Souper Sundays:
Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.
(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...
To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
- Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
On your entry post (on your blog):
- Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
- You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).
Have a happy, healthy week!