Book Club Soup

The members of my book club are always excited when it’s my turn to host.  Even though every meeting is potluck, my need to feed people always morphs into multiple dishes on my end.  With the first frost coming this weekend, I harvested everything left in the garden the other night: green tomatoes, hot peppers, herbs, and bags and bags of kale.  I found this clipping in the recipe pile.  It definitely came from the Chicago Tribune’s Lifestyle Section, but there was no date visible on what I ripped out.  I’d have said it wasn’t too long ago, because it wasn’t buried deeply, but an internet search revealed that this article was published almost a year ago, on October 27, 2014:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/recipes/sc-food-1031-dinner-fast-soups-20141027-column.html

Kale and Potato Soup
Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: about 8 cups, 8 servings

Embellish this hearty kale soup by garnishing it with crusty croutons and crumbled farmers or feta cheese. Or, serve it pureed, topped with a splash of cream and chopped chives.

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 medium (10 ounces total) red potatoes, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
10 ounces roughly chopped kale or tender collard greens, 6 to 7 cups
Plain yogurt or labneh (a strained yogurt), optional

1 Heat broth and potatoes to boil in large saucepan. Simmer on low, 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water, garlic and pepper flakes to a boil. Stir in the chopped greens. Cook, stirring, until greens are bright green and just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Drain.

3 Add drained greens and ¼ teaspoon salt to broth. Simmer until potatoes and greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Serve with a dollop of yogurt if desired.

Nutrition information per serving: 54 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 737 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

I love kale.  We met about 3 years ago, when my mother-in-law planted a bunch and decided her 6 plants would yield more kale than they could possibly eat. She dug out 4 and sent them home with us.  It was our first spring in this house and we hadn’t even finished digging out our garden plot.  There was just enough room along the edge of the bed to plant this wee kale.  I found a completed garden photo on Facebook:

See it? Waaay in the back along the fence.
See it? Waaay in the back along the fence.

We were overrun with kale that summer.  To every social gathering, I brought a kale salad.  I never got tired of it, and when we couldn’t find any seedlings the next summer, I was devastated.  Luckily, kale is a staple in our CSA box, so we still had plenty of kale.  This year, we found plants at a school PTO sale, so we had 2 different varieties (lacinto/curly and purple Russian) in the garden this season (plus CSA kale).

My book club is a collection of 4 awesome women of different ages and all walks of life (no other teachers, which is a big change for me in a social setting). I adore them all, and we get along well.  BUT two of them are picky eaters (I say this as a fact only; I LOVE them), and meal planning, as I am pretty adventurous, can be a challenge.

Clearly, this soup recipe appealed to me. But reading it the other night left me thinking, this is kind of boring. So I doctored it up, made it heartier, and continued to beat down the veggie surplus in the fridge and pantry.  Here’s my end result:

Hearty Fall Chicken Vegetable Soup

Olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (I buy Costco’s organic), cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound baby carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, diced
5 small russet potatoes, diced (3/4 inch)
1 Tbs minced garlic
6 cups chicken stock (I used Kirkland organic)
salt and pepper to taste (1/2 – 1 tsp salt, 1/8-1/4 tsp pepper)
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano
6 cups kale, roughly chopped
1-2 cups rice, cooked

In a large stockpot, brown the chicken in 1/2 Tbs of olive oil over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.  Add a little more oil to the pot and saute the carrots and onion until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring constantly.  Add stock, potatoes, chicken, herbs, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are fork tender.  Remove and discard herb stems (most of the herbs will have fallen off). Add kale and rice to the pot.  Stir in kale and cook until kale is wilted and rice is warm.  Adjust seasonings as needed (I didn’t really taste a kick from the red pepper flake, so you could add more if you wanted to up the spice level).

2015-10-18 11.21.53

I served this soup with a Caesar Salad and crusty sage bread. We also had hummus and carrot slices and rice-quinoa crackers, homemade brownies, and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins!  Oh, and wine (pinot grigio).  Heavenly night all around.

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