Monday, December 15, 2008

A Kale Tale

See this leafy green stuff? It's kale.

If you've never had it, here's how I'd describe it: a really, really tough version of parsley. It doesn't wilt. It takes a lot of effort to chew. Did I mention it was tough?

I don't have much use for kale. In fact, I have only one recipe I use it in: a sausage and potato soup. (If you're still interested in trying it after you read this -- and really, you should, because it's a good soup -- the recipe is at the end.)

The soup calls for two cups of kale. The thing is, you can't buy kale by the cupful. You buy it by the bunch. And there's a lot more than two cups of kale in a bunch.

Back when my sister Allie and I had our apartment in Farmington, I made this soup one time. I used my two cups of kale. I thought about throwing out the extra. But then I didn't.

This apartment was the first place I'd lived that had a garbage disposal. It was an impressive machine and I was a little fascinated with it. I thought it would be fun to feed it the kale.

And it was -- at least for stalks one through six. They spun and spun while the blades ground away, eventually sucking in leafy tops. Stalk seven, though is what gummed up the works. I was faced with an ugly kale clog.

I tried running the garbage disposal longer. Nothing. I tried four different grades of drain cleaner. No dice. I tried a snake-like gadget that was supposed to clear any blocked pipe. All it did was bring up a few good size chunks of kale, unharmed, except for the color bleaching that occurred as a result of the three gallons of Draino I used.

Ben finally showed up to help and suggested lye. Citing my aversion to corrosive alkalines in the kitchen, I said no. Then he suggested a plunger. I have an aversion to plungers in the kitchen, too, but it was better than lye and I was desperate for an operational sink at this point.

At first, even the plunger was helpless against the kale blockage. Eventually, however, Ben was able to clear the clog. I was giddy. My sink was kale-free. I'm sure my landlord would have been appreciative, too, had he been aware of the situation.

Thanks to this experience, Ben asks me whenever I make this soup not to put the kale down the garbage disposal. Let me caution you in the same way. Toss it, give it to the dog, put it in a vase and pretend it's a bouquet -- but do not try to grind it up in the InSinkErator.

Trust me on this one.

Sausage Kale Soup
  • 1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 to 4 cups milk
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup bacon, crumbled
  • Dash salt
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large russet potato, scrubbed, with peel
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
Grill or sauté sausage until cooked. Slice into 1/4-inch slices.

Combine broth, milk, onion, bacon, salt and pepper flakes in a large stock pot. Cook at medium high heat for about 10 minutes.

Quarter the potato lengthwise, then slice. Add to pot. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Add sausage to soup. Simmer for an hour.

Add kale. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Makes four servings.

The food: Kale
The verdict: Great in soups. Not great in drains.


Ellen said...

OMW! I soooooooo needed this laugh right now! ;) I appreciate your willingness and ability to share a story like this with such a sense of humor! LOL. Too funny.

I have to ask - is this soup similar to the one at Olive Garden? -Zuppa Tuscana or something like that!? I love that soup! It's one of my favs. I will most definitely have to try this recipe. Thanks for the laugh (so good for my soul today) and for sharing a good recipe.

Love you friend.

Abbie said...

Yes, it is a clone of the Olive Garden soup and it is delicious! You can use turkey sausage and skim milk to make it a little lighter and it still tastes just as good!

Nicole said...

This story reminds me of using the plunger to unclog the showers in Kea after an ill-advised mud-sliding party. Good memories. I think you were too smart to have been involved, but you probably suffered from the muddy showers nonetheless.