Kale: The Leafy Green Monster

Photograph from zero-g on Flickr

I always thought that kale was supposed to behave like spinach. Granted, I haven't done much cooking with it, but I assumed that when exposed to heat it would wilt and shrivel down to a fraction of its original size. So when I decided to make the potato soup with kale and chorizo from the March issue of Bon Appétit I didn't bat an eye over the fact that the recipe called for a lot of it—16 cups, to be exact.

I chopped the onion and sautéed it in olive oil. I diced the chorizo and added it to the pot along with the fragrant, spicy smoked paprika. I tossed in the slices of potato and poured in two quarts of chicken stock. And then I began tearing the pound and a half of kale into bite-sized pieces, mounding them in a large salad bowl as I went. When I was finished, the salad bowl was almost overflowing. It was like a leafy, green mountain; enough kale to feed an army of anemics.

No matter, I said to myself. As soon as it’s submerged in the steaming, bubbling chicken stock it will wither and collapse like an elaborate hairdo in August.

I was wrong. Kale, like spinach, is bitter and fibrous and full of iron. But that's where the similarities end. After simmering for an hour it was still as dense and voluminous as it had been when raw. Instead of soup with kale in it, what I had made was more like kale with a little bit of soup around it.

I served myself a small portion for lunch, pressing back the unruly greens with a ladle to extract as much broth as possible. The flavor was rich and peppery, and I enjoyed the contrast between the fiery chorizo and the earthy potatoes. But if I ever make this soup again, I'm cutting the cups of kale in half. I suggest you do the same. And if anyone has any good recipes for kale, I love to have them. I have an extra bunch of the stuff leftover...

About the author: Lucy Baker is a graduate student in the writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. Before returning to school to pursue an MFA, she was an assistant cookbook editor at HarperCollins. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently obsessed with all things fennel.

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Kale: The Leafy Green Monster

About This Recipe

This recipe appears in: This Week's 'Tasty 10'

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces Spanish chorizo, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 lbs kale, stemmed and torn into small pieces (about 16 cups, although I suggest halving this amount)

Procedures

  1. 1

    Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sautée until translucent, 8 minutes. Add chorizo and paprika and stir for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and increase heat to boil. Add kale and stir until soup returns to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

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