Creamy Kale and Potato Soup with BaconFriday, November 13, 2015
This is a rustic, simple soup with humble ingredients, so the one thing I wouldn't sacrifice is using homemade chicken stock. A good stock is the foundation for any great soup! Check out my chicken stock recipe in the previous post if you need some help for that. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it's a great time to have a few quarts on hand!
4 strips of bacon
2 celery sticks
4 cloves roasted garlic (2 cloves of regular garlic is fine if you don't have roasted)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 lb potatoes, any variety
4 cups warmed homemade chicken stock, plus more as needed
2 lbs Tuscan kale (sometimes labeled as Lacinato kale)
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
Kosher salt, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Makes about 2 quarts
Special Equipment: Dutch oven or other large pot, immersion or upright blender
Start out by chopping the bacon into small pieces. Add to the cold pot, turn up the heat to about medium and let it cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate and drain off any excess of 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
While the bacon cooks, prep your other ingredients. The onions, celery and carrots should be diced. The potatoes should be peeled and diced into 1" pieces.
Add the onions, celery and carrots to the bacon fat. You can add olive oil if you didn't have enough fat from cooking the bacon. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the veggies have softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the roasted garlic and mash it into the pot. Add the bay leaf and pepper flakes. Cook another minute.
Stir in the peeled potatoes.
And add the four cups of warmed chicken stock, plus any more needed to cover the potatoes. As I mentioned in the post intro, you could use white beans or cauliflower if you don't want to cook with potatoes. Just adjust the simmering time accordingly.
Stir, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Season the broth adequately with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce to medium low heat and let the potatoes simmer until cooked, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, you can prep your kale. I'd already washed my kale upon getting home from the farm, but even if you buy yours in the store you'll want to give it a good soak in cool water to rinse away any debris. I like working with Tuscan kale because the leaves are tender and don't take long at all to cook. It's easy to strip the leaves by running your thumb and index finger down the stem.
Then you can pile up a stack of leaves and slice into thin strips. The texture improves the more finely you shred the kale, but do what works for you. It will still be tender if you want to leave it in bigger pieces.
Then, to be extra cautious I rinse and drain the shredded leaves once more to make sure I caught everything. This is the same way I clean any kind of hearty greens like kale, collards or chard. So much dirt can get trapped in the crevices!
After about twenty minutes, check the potatoes to see if they're cooked through. They need to be easily pierced with a fork once done.
Discard the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes into the soup broth. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can carefully transfer the soup in batches to an upright blender and puree (be careful not to fill a blender too full with hot liquid as it will overflow!) Otherwise, if you're not too concerned with a smooth texture, you can crush the potatoes in the pot by hand using a potato masher.
I left just a tiny bit of texture left in the puree.
Check the seasoning once again, then add the shredded kale by the handful. It will wilt as it heats, allowing you to add more to the pot.
Cook for ten to fifteen minutes or until kale is tender, seasoning with salt if necessary. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice and stir in a couple pats of cold butter. If you're making this for Whole 30, you could finish with olive oil or clarified butter instead.
The soup is ready to be eaten immediately. As with any other soup, it's also great the next day and freezes well.