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Suddenly Stormy

Early this afternoon, Howard sent me a “news flash” about a fast storm coming through the area during this evening’s commute. There would be snow, high winds, and possible whiteout conditions. As reported, wet snow came down in the afternoon, blowing against the windows, and then, it stopped. When I left work this evening, the sun was shining. Well, actually, it was dusk, but the sun had been shining. Shortly before I headed home, I noticed that the setting sun cast a lovely pink light on the afternoon’s dusting of snow.

When I got home, Bella and I suited up for her evening walk. I put on waterproof shoes, a hat, gloves, nothing special because the storm had passed. The sidewalk was a little icier than I expected. Instead of detouring back inside for my YakTrax, I chose to just walk slowly. It was a bit treacherous in spots, but, I tried to walk on snow wherever possible, and we ambled along, enjoying the brisk evening.

All of a sudden, I noticed it was cloudy again. Within seconds, I was in the middle of a snow squall, nearly whiteout conditions. I think the sudden weather change made Bella nervous. She started to walk faster, causing me to slip and land flat on my back. It knocked my hat off!

The snow was blowing horizontally, and I could hardly see. We were around the halfway point, so it didn’t make sense to turn back, but we were still 15 minutes from home, under normal conditions. All we could do was barrel ahead.

Fortunately, the plan for dinner was hot soup: Caldo Verde, a Portuguese kale soup. I had prepared most of the components the night before. I had already cooked the sausage and sweet potatoes. I had also had the base, the broth with potatoes, prepared as well. All I had to do tonight was to slice the kale and heat it all up.

Howard commented on how this was the most local meal we’ve made in a while. The homemade chicken stock was stashed in the freezer. The onions and kale were from the past weekend’s farmers market, the potatoes and sweet potatoes were stored from our Winter CSA share, and the sausage was from Chestnut Farms.

Caldo Verde
Serves 4-6
(Adapted from The Boston Globe Magazine, January 3, 2010)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1½ sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in ¾-inch pieces
½ lb hot Italian sausage links
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken stock
½ lb red potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 bunch kale
2 tsp cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 450F. Toss diced sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Roast on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Broil sausage links on top rack, about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Cool until you can handle them. Slice into ½ inch rounds, and then cut the rounds in half again for half moons.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are very soft, about 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes in the pot.

Prepare kale: Cut out the center stem from the leaves. Cut the top part of the leaves along the center stem. Stack several leaves flat. Roll them lengthwise into a tight cigar. Cut the cigar crosswise, as thin as possible. (I rinsed the leaves after preparing them.)

Add the greens, sausage, and sweet potatoes to the broth mixture. Stir and simmer until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cider vinegar, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

The sweet potatoes, sausage, and broth mixture can be cooked the day before and stored in the refrigerator.


Soup, Mm-Mm Good

It’s funny that when I was growing up, my mother cooked a lot.  However, except for chicken soup, I don’t remember her making soup from scratch. Soup came from a can.  (Campbell’s, mm-mm good)

Kale & Sausage SoupI haven’t eaten canned soup since college. I always make soup from scratch (though I admit to often using those tetrabrick containers of stock as an ingredient).  Soup is so easy to make and tastes so much better than the processed stuff.  You also know exactly what went into your bowl of soup (and stomach).  We cook for two at my house, but big batches freeze well for easy take-it-work lunches.  That works well for us.

We continue to enjoy our vegetables from the CSA. I made another soup, Kale and Sausage Soup. I used the lovely kale (and an onion) from the CSA and a packet of sweet Italian sausage from the freezer. The sausage was from the Codman Farm Meat CSA which we belonged to in the spring. According to Howard, I was a little too heavy-handed with the red pepper flakes, but I thought it was tasty just the way it came out. We also made salad from CSA vegetables to go with the soup — lettuce, peppers, and carrots. Mm-mm, good.

Kale and Sausage Soup
(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 lb. bulk sweet Italian sausage (if it comes in casings, just cut them off)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced (I put them through the Microplane)
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 10 cups beef broth
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
  • Salt to taste

Over medium heat, cook the sausage and chopped onion until fat renders and the onion starts to get soft, about 15 minutes.  Break up the meat with a spoon as it cooks.  Add garlic, and cook over low heat, covered, about 10 minutes.  Drain off and discard any extra fat.

Add lentils, kale, tomatoes, broth, and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.  Add salt, if needed, to taste.