Resolutions in Action: Spicy Kale Coconut Soup

8 Jan

Every so often, the literati get together and decide the superlative pre-fix du jour.  For a while it was “hyper-” — hyperactive, hypersensitive, hyperextended.  Then it was mega– megachurch, Megatron, MegaBus.  Currently, “super-” is enjoying its hayday: Citizens United gave birth to the super PAC, complete and utter Congressional dysfunction created an ironically-named Super Committee, and Oprah (aka: SuperWoman) has brought to my attention the SuperFood.
  
As you may recalll, I pledged that 2012 would be the year I would eat more of these so-called superfoods.  When I made that resolution I was only vaguely aware of what that phrase meant–something about antioxidants and vitamins blah blah blah.  I spent more time pondering whether the word should be written superfood, super food, Super Food, or SuperFood than thinking about how I could incorporate them into my diet.  To be honest, what sealed the deal for me was the realization that if I simply added acai berries to my regular ol’ breakfast smoothie  I could start calling it a SUPERSMOOTHIE–and why in God’s name would I keep drinking regular smoothies when I could be drinking supersmoothies? (I’m an easy sell… I’m not proud of it.)

Well– turns out that there is something to these superfoods other than the chance for some extra alliteration in your day.  These bad boys are defined as foods that are calorie sparse and nutrient dense, so they pack about as much punch as can be expected of naturally-occuring sustenance (that is, of course, until they discover the HYPER-MEGA-SUPER-foods).  You can find a full list of green superfoods, fruit and nut superfoods, seaweed superfoods, and herb superfoods here (plus bee-product superfoods.… who knew?).

This week I added 4 bunches of kale to my cart and decided to take these superfoods for a little test drive.  Nutritionists indicate that leafy greens like kale boost our immune and lymphatic systems, stave off heart disease, help cleanse our kidneys, and provide important components for our brain and blood.  

I tried it a few ways: roasted, as part of a frittata, in a soup, and as part of a grain-free pizza.  By far, the soup came out the best on the first try, so today I will share that recipe with you and work to improve outcomes on the rest.  A note about kale: make sure to THOUROUGHLY clean and dry it– it can get gritty and soggy if you skip that step.

Spicy Kale Coconut Soup with Tofu “Croutons”
I was inspired by this recipe, but made an audible to switch the base into a soup.

Croutons

  • 1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 Cup white vinegar (although I bet apple-cider vinegar would also be delish)
  • 2 TBS olive oil 
  • Zest and Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Soup

  • 2 TBS Coconut Oil (olive oil will probably work just as well!)
  • 1 large white onion, chopped 
  • 1.5 TBS ginger, grated or minced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 2.5 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp garam masala  
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric (this WILL stain everything yellow, so don’t use your fancy white cookware!) 
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 3 c vegetable stock (I did 2.5 c stock and .5c red wine- just to mix it up) 
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and  chopped  
  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped 
  • 1 c lite coconut milk

Assembly:

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Toss all the “crouton” ingredients and arrange onto a lightly greased baking sheet so that they do not touch.  Cook in oven for 30-40 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Set aside.

2. In a medium-large saucepan, allow the oil to heat up over med-high heat. Throw in the onions and sautee until fragrant (2-3 minutes), then add garlic and cloves.  Saute until onions are soft and just turning light brown (about 6-7 minutes more), then add spices and sautee for 3-4 more minutes.  You want the onions to be soft and mixed in with all the spices, but don’t want anything to burn.  

3. Add in the liquids, then the potato.  Cover the pot and let boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

4. Add the kale, a bit at a time, and stir around so the kale is absorbing some liquid. Cover again and simmer for another 15 minutes. 

5. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Allow soup to rest for at least 10 minutes, as it will thicken.  Pour into bowls and top with tofu “croutons.” Refrigerate and reheat whatever is left- it is as delicious the next day.

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