winter

Kale and White Bean Soup

Kale and White Bean Soup // A Thought For Food

I’d like to think my grandfather would’ve enjoyed this soup. My grandfather (we called him “Pop”) loved soup. He loved it so much that he’d finish his bowl before anyone else at the table. However, this wasn’t just the case with soup. Pop was a very fast eater, a habit he picked up during his years as a pediatrician. With limited time for meals, he’d scarf down what was in front of him so he could get back to the hospital. I remember moments as a child when he’d come home for lunch. Within five-minutes he’d be clearing his plate, give me a pat on the head, and be out the door.

Pop passed away a few weeks ago, just shy of turning 91 (his birthday was December 31st). Eric and I spent most of the holiday week down in New Jersey with my family. It felt good to tell stories about him, to laugh a bit. But processing someone’s death is never quick (nor should it be)… this will take some time.

Kale and White Bean Soup // A Thought For Food

KALE AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

Yield:
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato, 1/4 inch dice
1 pound kale, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
Salt
Black pepper
1-32 oz container low-sodium vegetable broth
1-16 oz can cannellini beans, drained
1-8 oz can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
1 piece parmesan rind
Grated parmesan, for serving

Directions:
Add oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium-high heat. After 30 seconds, add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add sweet potato and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in kale. Once the kale has wilted, add the rosemary, parmesan rind and vegetable broth. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Stir in beans and canned tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup
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A bowl of hot soup soothes the soul in ways few foods can. Even the process has a calming effect. The peeling and chopping of vegetables, the smell of them sautéing, the steam that escapes as it simmers on the stove. I find the whole experience comforting. I've made many batches over these last couple of months to serve to dinner guests (anyone else exhausted from all the holiday gatherings?). This carrot soup was for our friends who just had a baby a few weeks ago. We spent the afternoon at their home, cuddling with the little one, who slept soundly in my arms until she was ready for more food or wanted to be changed, all things I could pass her off for her mommies to do. It made my heart soar to see how happy the two of them are with their new addition. 

I'm looking forward to this coming year and all the dishes I have rattling around in my head. To be honest, things felt a bit disjointed over these last twelve months. There was a lot to juggle... the Cape house, work, travels... and I found it challenging to focus. But I'm feeling like this soup is the right direction. Cooking the things I love to eat and just sharing that with all of you. Here's to a great 2018! Cheers!

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Carrot Ginger Soup from A Thought For Food www.athoughtforfood.net
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Carrot Ginger Soup from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

Carrot Ginger Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings
Special Tools: Blender or Immersion Blender

Ingredients:
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth
Salt
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons yellow miso paste (use gluten-free miso to make this fully gf)
Sesame oil (optional)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Cook onion for 3 minutes, stirring often, until. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped carrot, cover with 4 cups vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. 

Transfer the soup contents to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Add miso and maple syrup and blend to incorporate. Taste for seasoning and, if necessary, add salt. Transfer the mixture back to the pot. The soup will be on the thicker side, but you can thin it out with another cup of vegetable broth. 

Serve in bowls with a light drizzle of sesame oil and chopped cilantro on top. 

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Kale, Green Bean, and Lentil Salad with Crispy Tofu

Am I the only one who isn't over kale? I never became obsessed with it the way others did. Maybe that's why I still dig it. As a salad base, it holds up under bold dressings, never getting limp or soggy (Eric calls this "Dead Salad," which is something he actually enjoys eating. Don't ask me why. It's one of his quirks that I've grown to tolerate). Initially, this was going to be a green bean dish, but when I was at the store, things just ended up in my basket. The kale, some lentils, a container of tofu. And I thought, "Hey, these would all go nicely together!" Funny how that happens.

As is the case with all successful dishes, this bowl didn't last long.  (The photo down there of the half-eaten salad wasn't just me styling the plate... that's how it really looked). There was just enough left over to throw a container in the fridge. When I went back and hour later to grab another forkful, I found that it'd gotten even better, the kale tenderized and the flavors dispersed. So, if you can be patient, it's worth the wait. 

Kale, green bean, and lentil salad with crispy tofu


SERVINGS
4-6 as a side

INGREDIENTS
Tuscan kale, rinsed and stems removed
3/4 cup cooked lentils
1, 14 oz block extra firm tofu
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
Chinese five spice blend
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt

DIRECTIONS
Line a large plate with a couple pieces of paper towel. Place the block of tofu on the paper towel and weigh it down with something (a heavy can will do), to release as much liquid as possible. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a serving bowl. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice blend and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to bowl with the kale.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and season with a sprinkle of salt and a dusting of Chinese five spice blend. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same wok and set over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown even. Transfer the tofu to the bowl with the kale and green beans. 

Add the lentils on top of the other ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking together sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the dressing on on top and, using tongs, toss to combine. 

You can serve immediately, but it gets better if it sits for 30 minutes (or a few hours).