Kale and white bean soup

Hey, I am on my feet again!  For the last two days I have been able to stand and walk on the foot I had surgery on six weeks ago.  After so much sitting, I am thrilled to be up.  My Hubby has been the best care provider, despite not completely getting over the cold we both had right after my surgery.  He has been shoveling the snow from the walks and driveway in sub-freezing temperatures, traveling and working hard on top of caring for me, it isn’t too surprising he is struggling to shake this cough and cold.  Despite not feeling too great himself, he made us a wonderful and nutritious chicken soup for our Thanksgiving dinner.

On my first full day up and about I decided it was my turn to make a soup for him that would help him recover.  With our homemade soup stock, (‘bone broth’ for those of you in the trendy scene) as a base, I wanted to ensure there were lots of good vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so dark leafy greens (kale), carrots, onions and garlic, potatoes with their skin, and white beans.  Granted, the garlic is the best for immune support, but the combination is worth the effort for flavor.  The parsley is frozen, so I couldn’t put it in this soup, but fresh parsley would be great at the end.  This made enough soup for two meals for us.  If you make it as part of a larger meal, it will feed more; conversely, if you need to feed more than four people, increase the ingredients as needed.

Kale White Bean Soup

  • 4 cups broth, home-made if you have it
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 large clove minced garlic
  • 2 medium potatoes with skins on, cubed
  • 2 medium to large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried winter savory or lemon thyme
  • 1 can, well rinsed, reduced sodium white beans
  • 1 bunch of curly leafed kale, prefer organic for us, chopped torn or into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring the broth to a boil and reduce heat.  Saute’ the onions, garlic and carrots in olive oil or butter until just soft, add to the broth.  Add the potato and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft enough to stab with a knife.  Add the thyme and winter savory (a lemony flavored herb), and the can of white beans, simmer another five minutes to incorporate the flavors of the herbs and warm the beans.  With the soup removed from the heat, turn the kale pieces into the hot soup.  Cover for a couple of minutes to allow the firm leaves to fully wilt.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately.

Following supper the annual Carolers knocked on our door with a lively rendition of Jingle Bells.  We can now look forward to increasingly longer days since Wednesday was the Winter Solstice, I am on my feet just in time for the Christmas weekend.  Wishing you and yours a festive and fun, yet safe, Holiday.  Cheers!

Turkey season

It is November, time to think about Thanksgiving.  Do you travel or do you do the cooking?  If you stick with a traditional turkey dinner, how do you like to cook your turkey?  With or without dressing/stuffing?  Deep fried?  Smoked?  Gravy or not?  What else to you make to go with it?

Most of the time we are visitors to my brother and sister-in-laws, unless weather prevents our making the five hours drive.  I love turkey, but with this arrangement I don’t get leftovers.  My answer is to roast a turkey before hand, typically stuffing the cavities with fresh herbs, apples, onions and garlic.  Removing the meat right away I put the drippings, carcass, bay leaves and lots of vegetable scrapings and trimmings into a large pot of water and simmer it for hours and hours to make a rich turkey broth.  Next to chicken soup, this is a fantastic way to fend off germs during the cold and flu season.

We provide the cranberry sauce and wine, easily replaced if we can’t make it across the state. Yup, lots of wine I make goes with us, and I cook the cranberries into a whole-berry jam that finds it way to toast and waffles over the course of the next few mornings when not used with leftovers.

Turkey soup from homemade turkey broth.
Making turkey broth from the pan drippings and carcass of the turkey, with all of the vegetable scrapings and clippings is the best!

Ah, leftovers: love ’em, hate ’em?  Hubby isn’t fond of them, I find them a challenge.  How to use the left over white meat before it dries out too much to enjoy.  What to do with the small pieces that inevitably cover the serving platter after carving and at the end of the meal.

There is the tried and true turkey sandwich, of course, and it does have a place of honor as a quick way to use the leftovers.  That dry meat cries out to be made into turkey salad (like chicken or tuna) with mayo and celery, also a great standby.  Use some of the broth, small turkey pieces, fresh vegetables, barley, rice or pasta to make a wonderful soup.

I try to get a bit more creative.  I am a fan of grain in my salads, high in nutrition and flavor with lots of texture hot or cold.  When you find yourself faced with the leftovers in your fridge, try this recipe.

Turkey, Kale and Buckwheat Salad

  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey meat
  • 6 cups cleaned, stem removed, torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats, dry toast in pan before cooking
  • 2 cups home-made broth
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup Craisins
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dressing as desired
Thanksgiving leftovers as salad
Turkey, craisins, onion, garlic, kale and cooked buckwheat groats make a flavorful salad from leftovers.

Lightly toast the buckwheat groats in a dry frying pan to bring out the best flavor; once toasted the buckwheat is referred to as Kasha and is likely available where you can purchase buckwheat groats.

As with rice, 1 cup of groats to 2 cups liquid (water or broth) to a large pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes after coming to a boil.

Once cooked, leave the remaining liquid in the pot, add your other ingredients to the hot buckwheat, tossing well. The kale wilts and everything warms, releasing aromas but not loosing crisp texture or nutrition. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding a dressing as desired.

Turkey salad after Thanksgiving.
Fresh greens and buckwheat groats amp up the flavors of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in a super healthy way.

As we ramp up to the holiday season and all of the excess that comes with it, this is a nutritious, tasty meal to keep you going.  Hot or cold (leftovers of leftovers?) we enjoyed this salad; even my darling Hubby.  Pairing it with a rose’, dry white, or light red if you leave the salad naked, pair to your dressing if you use one.

Tell me about your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving left overs.


Ordinary times, extraordinary fare

The Christmas cookies, decadent leftovers, and frozen weather are gone.  The tree, decorations and outside lights are back in their storage bins for another year at both the tasting room and home.  As people recover from their holiday splurges they are staying away from the wineries; there is a chilly, quiet peace here in Walla Walla.

I had quite a hankering this week to get into the kitchen to cook!.  It is time for hearty, satisfying meals.  Some of my homemade broth was thawed as a base for squash soup.  I love having a variety of soups during the cold months and try to make enough extra to freeze for a second meal.  What is your favorite soup?

Kabacha squash, photo thanks to dpseeds.
Kabacha squash, photo thanks to dpseeds, is one of the squash we cooked up this week – very yummy.

My latest grocery shopping was weighted heavily with winter squashes, beets, and any number of colorful vegetables.  Since time was a ready commodity Monday and Tuesday we grated one butternut squash (the time consuming part) and I steamed the others.  You know the grated zucchini patties of the summer? Well, we enjoyed grated butternut squash patties with quinoa and broccoli sides.  I’m not a fan of the sweet squash recipes, my preferred seasoning is garlic powder, thyme, sage, and pepper (salt is added individually at the table).  No leftovers that night!  The steamed squash was made into ‘burgers’ and soup (recipe below).  Each squash has a different flavor, you can stick with your favorite one or mix and match.  Pumpkin, the tiny ones I grew last summer were so yummy, is in this category too, so plan ahead next Fall.

Monday through Thursday we aren't drinking alcohol for a while. Convenient clipart, right?
Monday through Thursday we aren’t drinking alcohol for a while. Convenient clipart, right?

Hubby and I have decided to abstain from alcohol during the week, so no actual wine pairing to tell you about.  Weekends and social occasions we truly enjoy our choice of beverage though and it makes every weekend a special occasion.

To compensate, I drink more tea along with the water I always drink, although if you know how much tea I drink you would roll your eyes at that.  We finished enough of the loose teas in the cupboard to allow me to open a couple of the teas we brought back from Germany with us. (Oh, yes!)  For the last eight years Hubby has gone over for business and purchased tea for me.  This year I was able to go with him to the shop in Bremen’s train station: Tee Handelskontor.  It was delightful to wander through the small shop and experience first hand the sights and smells, and taste a few of the available teas.  My experience with the hotels in Germany showed how common tea consumption is there.  The loose and bagged tea options, the extensive tea service in a prominent place within the buffet and the number of people drinking tea every morning made me feel right at home.  There is coffee too, but not self serve.  We ventured into a couple of other tea shops along our journey, but this is the one I wanted to ‘see’.  Over the last few years my darling hubby has grown to love tea as much as the coffee he consumes; I am not a fan as coffee always gives me a headache.  (Another time I hope to tell you about my conversation with an acquaintance that roasts his own coffee.)  A good friend isn’t into hot beverages; she relies on particular sodas as her go-to.  What say you: coffee or tea or something else?

Winter Squash Soup

3 cups steamed, mashed meat of your favorite winter squash (or a combination of them)

3 cups homemade (or low-sodium stock)

1 cup chopped celery

1 small onion finely chopped; sauce’ in butter or olive oil

1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, powdered sage, thyme

to taste pepper

*you can add crispy bacon or diced pieces of meat should you desire

Combine all in a crock or stock pot and cook on low for a couple of hours until combined and smelling wonderful.  Salt and pepper to taste as served.  I typically enjoy Barbera or a lighter red blend with this soup.