The new rage in food these days seems to be kale. Not good ole kale cooked with chopped onions and bacon grease, sometimes alone, or perhaps with other greens such as collard, mustard or turnip, to make “sallet.”
Oh, no, the new kale is served raw in a tossed salad, sautéed, baked as chips or in a breakfast smoothie. Of course, for serving in a tossed salad you must first remove the stems and ribs and then massage the kale leaves to break down tough tissues. Allegedly, the leaves become smoother, darker and less bitter with massaging.
Even a magazine in my chiropractor’s office had a recipe for “crazy sexy kale salad.” The recipe called for a bunch of kale, shredded by hand; diced bell peppers; chopped parsley; avocados; flax oil; lemon juice, sea salt and cayenne to taste. You’re then instructed to combine all ingredients and massage them with both hands to “wilt the kale and cream the avocado.”
Kale is being touted as a “low-calorie, nutrient-dense powerhouse of antioxidants.” Okay, but when I add the onions, bacon grease and/or fat back and cook for hours, what do I do to the calories, and powerhouse of antioxidants? Frankly, I don’t care. I’d rather have my kale that way rather than having to massage the leaves before eating them raw.
But wait — kale for breakfast? I don’t think so. Just give me a couple pieces of bacon, a egg fried in the bacon grease, a piece of toast slathered in butter and topped with blackberry jam, and a Coca-Cola. No kale smoothie for me!
Unfortunately, I often have to do a reception after a memorial service at my church. I say often because I do live in a retirement community and there are a bunch of us old folks here with lots of aches, pains and health issues.
But I digress. When I order finger sandwiches for the reception, the tray always comes “decorated” with kale leaves and fresh strawberries. Folks pick up the strawberries to eat but the kale just gets in the way of the sandwiches. So, I whisk the kale away and put it in a plastic bag in the kitchen. My frugal Scots blood won’t let me simply throw the leaves away.
I take the kale home, wash and shred it for a bean and kale soup. This is hearty and so good. Who knows, the soup might even be good for me!
Kale and Bean Soup
1 tablespoon bacon grease or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 can cannellini or navy beans
kale leaves, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper vinegar
½ cup or more Kielbasa, diced and cooked
salt and pepper to taste
Put the bacon grease or olive oil in the bottom of your soup pot. Add the garlic and chopped onions to the liquid and quickly sauté. Add chicken broth and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with crusty French or Italian bread.
NOTE: Of course, you have removed the stems before you chop the kale. You can use almost any kind of sausage in this soup; I’ve used chorizo on occasion. Other times, I’ve just left out the sausage because I didn’t have any in the refrigerator. Also, you can add a small potato, diced, for a more substantial soup.
Sidna Brower Mitchell, a Memphis native, was graduated from Ole Miss in 1963 when she was named to the Hall of Fame. As editor of the Daily Mississippian when James Meredith integrated the university, she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her editorials and received a number of other honors and job offers. Sidna accepted an internship with Scripps-Howard to become a general assignment reporter for the World Telegram and Sun in New York City and a deskman for UPI in London. Her other media work included being officer in charge of employee communications for Citibank in New York City, a hospital community affairs director and an assistant director of development for a NYC management consultant firm. She and her late husband owned weekly newspapers in Morris County, NJ, for 25 years, where she has continued to write a weekly cooking column since 1975. Sidna retired as deputy director of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).
Although retired, Sidna continues to be active on a state and local level. She serves on the state board for CAI-NJ (Community Association Institute-New Jersey), a Middlesex County GOP committeewoman, on the Rossmoor Board of Governors, president of the Rossmoor Kiwanis Club, president of the Rossmoor Republican Club and Community Church secretary. Her sport is serious croquet in which she has participated in tournaments in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida.
Reach Sidna Brower Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org