Since I’m obviously not finished waxing nostalgic about Fairway, let us now return to the produce aisle on that fateful Sunday. The options were, to say the least, overwhelming. While I am lucky enough to live just two blocks from a fairly respectable Key Foods, the produce aisle at the Key leaves a lot to be desired. Not that I don’t appreciate the single row of imported Chilean blueberries (3 boxes for $5!) interspersed with jars of kimchi and dusty onions rolling down the aisle like tumbleweeds, but every once in a while it’s nice to have some more options. And so, if I had my way, a bottomless wallet, a kitchen large enough to hold a refrigerator (more on that later), and three Subaru’s with which to haul my load, I probably would have bought up the entire produce section at Fairway last weekend. Fortunately I had my chauffeur to keep me on track and steer me in the direction of the more practical veggies, and even provide some recipe advice to boot. In all fairness, as we gazed upon the bountiful mounds of kale, chard, and other leafy greens, the suggested dish was white bean and kale soup. Being the renegade I am, and stumbling across a $1 container of lentils later in the trip, I’ve modified the dish to its current form. Oh, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention the source behind the delish lamb merguez sausage that really puts the “sausage” in in Sausage, Lentil and Kale soup. Props, as always, to our boys at the Meat Hook. You will probably have an entire post dedicated to you some day. Get excited.
Sausage: Although I purchased the sausage in link form (~1 lb), I removed the casings and broke it up and sauteed it in smaller pieces. The key is just to start browning it in your stockpot, add in a chopped onion and chopped carrot or two when the fat starts to render, and keep the whole thing going over medium-low heat until the onions and carrots soften.
Lentil and Kale: Once the veggies are soft (about 6-7 minutes), it’s time to add the liquid. In this case, the liquid came in the form of some chicken stock I’d made from a roast chicken last month. I added a quart of the stock, plus a cup of water. Once the water is in, add the lentils (a little over a cup). Once the lentils are cooking away, stir in the kale leaves from once bunch of kale (ribs removed – more on that later). I sliced up the leaves first, but they cook down so much it doesn’t really matter. Let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. This is a good time to get caught up on the Olympics.
Soup: Once the lentils hit their desired consistency, you are pretty much good to go. A heavy hand with the seasonings is always in order (salt, pepper, a dash of curry for this one, pretty much whatever else is on the spice shelf that sounds good). What really made this for me, however, was a couple of healthy squirts of Sriracha sauce. I don’t think anyone knows exactly what this stuff is, but it gave the broth some heat and flavor it was so sorely lacking. Once seasoned, taste until satisfied, and then ladle it out!
Bonus: Sauteed Kale Ribs
Recipes are always telling me to discard the kale ribs. In the interest of stem-to-leaf cooking, I instead chopped them up and sauteed them in the rendered sausage fat. You might be noticing a theme.