Many two year-olds won't eat a plateful of sautéed greens even if they're cooked in bacon, and my daughter — an excellent eater most of the time — was no exception. When she was a toddler, I could usually get by with mixing shredded greens into a few scrambled eggs, but much was my delight when I discovered the kid liked kale soup. This one is mildly sweet with a bit of apple, and it has that beloved bacon-y edge that goes so well with sautéed greens.
This version gets a little naughty with pancetta and a dollop of crème fraîche, but you can lighten it up by omitting the pancetta (use 2 tablespoons of olive oil instead to cook the greens) and swapping out the crème fraîche for yogurt. Vegetarians can also substitute vegetable stock or water instead of the chicken stock and skip the pancetta. To make it vegan, take out the swirl of creamy matter at the end.
Soup like this has few rules. I don't peel the apple or de-stem the kale. All that roughage is good for you, and dinner comes together in the blink of an eye.
This week, I'm making it with turkey stock made from our Thanksgiving bird. My daughter is eight now, and still saying "more, please!" when I make this kale and apple soup, and so are the adults.
Kale & Apple Soup
1 large bunch kale (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup cubed pancetta or sliced bacon (about 2 ounces)
4 cups warmed chicken or vegetable stock, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 whole yellow onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup crème fraîche, mascarpone cheese, or plain yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash the kale and remove the bottom inch of stem. Chop roughly into 1-inch pieces.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the pancetta for 1 minute or until just barely showing color. Add the kale and stir to coat with rendered fat. (Add a glug of olive oil if pancetta didn't render enough fat to keep the kale from sticking to the pan.) Cook, stirring, until the kale begins to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken stock, lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a blender; or blend with an immersion blender. (Fill the blender no more than halfway; puree in two batches if necessary.) Puree, starting on the lowest speed, until smooth. (When working with hot liquids in a blender, it's wise to hold down the lid with a kitchen towel in case some liquid escapes when the motor is running.) Puree the second batch if necessary. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onions with the salt until the onions just barely show color, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped apples and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the apples soften and onions are translucent. Stir in the remaining broth.
Transfer the mixture to the blender, splitting into two batches if necessary. Puree until smooth.
Combine the pureed apple and onion mixture with the kale mixture, and whisk to combine. If soup seems too thick, add more stock or water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Reheat if necessary, and serve garnished with a dollop of crème fraîche, mascarpone cheese, or plain yogurt and a few grinds of black pepper.