Some vegetables work well in polite company. A group sitting down for dinner eats peas or green beans without much complaint.
Other slightly more eccentric vegetables might be best enjoyed by the cook when eaten alone. Eating fall's finest vegetables like brussel sprouts, turnips, and kale alone means that we cooks don't need to expose our favorite vegetable dishes to any turned up noses or friends' sudden, strange allergies.
I'm all for introducing eaters, especially children, to new vegetables, but when a vegetable in the peak of its season is prepared quickly and simply for a party of one, the results are a delicious, calming memory that lasts all week.
Food writer and novelist Laurie Colwin spent a lot of time in Greenwich Village "alone in the kitchen with an eggplant." The vegetable I like to eat by myself is kale.
On Sunday morning, I was up early and found my huge bunch of kale blocking my view of anything else in the fridge. I made myself some kale soup with poached eggs on top. Served with coffee and toast, it made a great breakfast for one.
Easy Kale Soup for One
serves one, or two
1 potato, peeled
2 cups water
6 to 8 kale leaves, carefully cleaned
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon good olive oil
salt and pepper
Chop the potato into bite sized chunks. Using a medium saucepan, put the water, potato and a dash of salt over medium-high heat.
While the potatoes start to cook, roll the leaves of the kale leaves together into a tight bunch and slice them thinly. You want thin ribbons of kale. Cut the stems into small pieces.
Put the stems in the pot with the potatoes first, since they take longer to cook. After two minutes, add the leafy parts of the kale. If necessary, add more water to the pot to just about cover the kale. Peel and mince the garlic clove and add it to the soup.
Put the lid on the pot and let the soup cook for about ten minutes. You will know the soup is done when you taste a ribbon of kale and it is tender, but has not yet become stringy or pulpy. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Then turn the heat to medium and crack two eggs on top of the soup. Ladle some of the soup broth on top of the eggs to poach them. Put the lid back on the pot and check the soup after three minutes. The whites of the eggs should start to turn solid while there is still some softness in the yolk. If the eggs break into the soup before they prettily poach, just use a fork to swirl them into the soup, egg drop style.
If your eggs poached, carefully spoon them into the center of a soup bowl. Ladle more soup around the outside of your bowl. Splash a ladle full of broth right over the top of the egg to keep it piping hot. Add some luxury to your soup for one by topping it with some good olive oil.