Roasted Root Vegetable and Kale Soup

Roasted Root Vegetables and Kale Soup

Sometimes you think you have the ingredients you need and then you cut into something and discover you need to rethink things on the fly. I hate onions, garlic, and linguiça sauteeing for a Caldo Verde when I discovered only a couple of my potatoes were any good. I suppose this is why you are supposed to do mise en place before you cook one thing, but I chop while I cook and probably always will. Okay, time to cook on the fly.

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 linquiça sausage sliced into 1/2 slices.
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups of finely chopped fresh kale
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

So, starting with what was already cooking:

In a stock pot, I heated 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. I added yellow onions and sauteed until beginning to brown. I added the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and linguiça and cooked for about 3 minutes. Now this was when I would be adding the potatoes for Caldo Verde, but no…

I turned on the oven to roast some root vegetables rather than boil potatoes.

So, I decided to use rutabaga and thought I needed a brighter flavor. I added diced tomatoes and added the same amount of water as I added tomatoes. (I filled the empty cans, shook them a bit, so everything dumped into the stock pot.) I turned the heat to a low simmer.

Meanwhile. I tossed the chopped rutabaga, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan with 1 TBSP of olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. I roasted them at 450°, turning them after about 15 minutes. After about 25-30 minutes they were tender and browned.

 

The tomato sauce/soup has been simmering away very slowly for about 30 minutes. I added the kale and let it wilt in the soup until tender, about 5 minutes. I then added the roasted vegetables and added a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

This is definitely something to make again and again. It has a bright, fresh taste with just the tiniest bit of heat. The carrots balance the rutabaga with a bit of sweetness, the linquiça is amazing as always, and the tomatoes and kale are made for each other. It’s a delicious soup, a bit lighter than Caldo Verde, and beautifully vibrant.

This made 8 servings, but that means 8 meals of progressively more flavorful soup since it always is better the next day.

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Braised Beef Shank & Vegetables

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This is a shot at the big cooking pan full of vegetables and the beef shank I braised with them since it makes about 8 servings and the shank will be pulled apart to add bits of beef to each serving. This takes several hours in the oven, so you must plan ahead, but it takes very little to prepare.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp shaved nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 beef shank
  • 1.5 onions, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen Italian beans
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

To begin, I warmed olive oil on medium heat is a big pan. I shaved about 1 tsp of nutmeg into the oil using a microplane. I added 6 peppercorns and a tsp of cinnamon. I let the oil heat until the spices thoroughly infused the oil and the air was rich and aromatic. This is enough nutmeg to be spicy, to leave a bit of tingle on your tongue. You can use less, but I love the flavor it brings.

I added the beef shank and let it brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. While it was browning, I chopped 1 and a half onions and 2 stalks of celery.

Removing the shank from the oil and setting it aside while I sautéed the vegetable. I added the onions and celery and let them cook. I added some  salt and pepper.

I turned the oven on to 350° to pre-heat.

I chopped up the carrots, potatoes and smashed and peeled the garlic gloves. When the onions were transparent, I added these veggies and let them cook for a few minutes. I added some  salt and pepper.

Then I added the Italian beans and diced tomatoes and stirred everything together. I added some  salt and pepper, then I tossed in a bay leaf and put the shank back in the pan.

Remember that adding salt and pepper throughout the cooking builds flavors more effectively and helps avoid over-salting at the end.

I put the pan in the oven and let it braise for the next 3 hours. It was delicious, spicy and aromatic. It made at least eight servings, so I stored it in an airtight container and reheated for several meals.

 

Lamb Neck Braised with Turnip and Sweet Potato

Lamb Neck Braised

Groceries are becoming incredibly expensive, especially meat. When I saw Safeway had lamb neck for only $3.49 a pound i decided to try it. I love the flavor of lamb but have mainly cooked shoulder roasts, shanks or chops. Being neck bones, I knew the meat would probably be tough, the more connective tissue there is, the tougher the meat tends to be. Neck bones are considered offal – the cheap cuts that are often neglected. Sometimes for good reason, but in this case, it turned out to be wonderful. So with tough meat, the trick is to cook low and slow, so I decided to braise it.

I preheated the oven to 300° Fahrenheit.

I put this big skillet on the stove with about 2 TBSP of olive oil and heated the oil. I added 2 pinches of cardamom and a pinch of cumin, 1 small chopped yellow onion and 2 diced gloves of garlic with a bit of salt and pepper.. When the onion was tender, I added the neck bones – about 2/3rds of a pound, added salt and pepper and browned them.

Meanwhile I scrubbed 2 carrots and cut them into big pieces (the more you chop up your carrots, the more nutrients leach out.) Then I chopped up 2 celery stalks. I peeled 1 turnip and 1 sweet potato and cut them into chunks as well. I added to the mix with some salt and pepper and stirred. Then I added 1 can of diced tomatoes and then filled the can with water and added that as well.

Then I popped in the oven and let cook slowly for what seemed like days but was only 2 hours. My apartment was redolent of the aroma of lamb, tomatoes, cardamom and all this goodness that the time passed slowly. But it was so worth the wait!

The turnip and cardamom really make this recipe, the tart sweetness of turnip was exactly what was needed to add a grace note to this hearty meal. The tomatoes and carrots added sweetness, the celery gave it an earthy base and the sweet potato added flavorful substance. It was so delicious I actually used my finger to clean the broth from the pan.

Please note that I added salt and pepper with each new step. The reason is that you should always season what you are cooking in the moment, adding the season again with new ingredients. Not only will it taste better, you are less likely to overseason it.

This made four servings of stew – and with just $2.09 worth of meat. Definitely a rich meal that is not costly. In fact, it’s only $1.42 per serving – excluding the cost of spices.

  • $2.09 Lamb
  • $1.69 Sweet Potato
  • $0.45 Turnip
  • $0.10 Carrot
  • $0.21 Celery
  • $0.32 Onion
  • $0.12 Garlic
  • $0.69 Diced Tomatoes

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

I had some fresh red chard the other day and wanted to make something simple. I decided on a simple soup with some sausage. I had some breakfast sausage so I worked with that.

I diced 1/2 of a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic and sautéed in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. I added salt, pepper and a couple teaspoons of oregano. Then, I added 6 ounces of breakfast sausage and cooked until it browned. I peeled and chopped 2 carrots and 1 potato and added them. Then I added 1 small 6 oz. can of diced tomatoes and about 12 oz of water and left it to simmer.

Meanwhile I cut the red chard leaves in thing strips and about 10 minutes before serving I added the chard and cooked until it was softened. I also added a can of kidney beans. I did not bother straining or rinsing the beans, knowing the liquid will just enrich the broth.

This made a delicious and simple soup that only got better the next day and the next. It made 4 servings.

Red Chard & Lentils Soup

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Heat 1.5 TBSP of olive oil in your soup kettle, while heating the oil, chop 1 medium yellow onion and add to the oil. Add dried oregano and thyme and some salt and pepper. Sauté until tender. Add a can of diced tomatoes and heat, stirring together. Add 1 cup of lentils and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, put a lid on it and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean and chop red chard, separating the leaves from the stems. When the lentils are tender, add the stalks, then five minutes later add the green leaves. Let cook for about 5 more minutes and remove from heat, adding a bit of salt and pepper and the juice of one fresh lemon.

The flavor is hearty, bright and rich. The lemon really brightens the flavors and helps marry the chard and lentils.