Grandma June is on her way to Seattle. I can see her in the red Honda, bundled up in the passenger seat next to my father, their matching pink cheeks bobbing along in conversation. She probably wants soup for lunch.
My mother reports she’s coming to take me Christmas shopping, but I’m blanking on my “want” list, because there are simply so many more “needs.” The Barenaked Ladies pop into my head (Oh, goodness me. What if my grandmother reads this? She’ll think I’m listening to porn. Does she know what a blog is?), and suddenly I’m spending my million dollars in the places that zip through my mind, and nowhere on the list is “an ottoman.”
I’d buy a gazillion raffle tickets for Pim‘s 4th Annual Menu for Hope, to benefit the UN Word Food Programme, including a few for Maggie’s prize, because I still haven’t tried Dry Fly Gin. (And who wouldn’t want the chance to have lunch with Harold McGee? Or talk photography and chocolate with Lara?)
I’d fill The Good Farmer Fund to its tippity top, so Seattle-area farmers could depend on it in times of need.
There are so many woulds, and here, from the comfort of my computer screen, it’s easy to find a wouldn’t, too. I wouldn’t meet Dad and Grandma June at Nordstrom’s this afternoon, for example, and wander with them through the overdecorated space, just looking for something to buy for the sake of buying. Or would I?
I’m going to package this thought up nice and neat, with a little red Christmas ribbon, stick it in my front jeans pocket – you know, the tiny square one on the right that fits nothing – and bring it with me. Maybe it’ll do me some good when I’m trying on the sexy black boots whose monetary equivalent would feed six people in Africa. For a year.
After Nordstrom’s, we’ll wander somewhere to buy fish, and I’ll make them a fancy dinner. Grandmothers are worth their weight in gold, I think, and when mine, now eighty, announced she was on her way, I decided to make it a celebration. We’ll start with this soup, a simple, warming first course.
(Some) Cream of Kale Soup (PDF)
Recipe 345 of 365
Anything that starts with “creamed” seems old-fashioned to me, perhaps because I associate the word with the Campbell’s labels we were supposed to collect for school as kids. My mother didn’t cook with cans of creamed anything, so I was always the one making excuses for myself, or walking to the grocery store after school to buy the can just for the label, so I could put an “x” next to my name on the poster advertising the soup label drive. I bought Campbell’s Cream of Broccoli to be cool.
Anyway, the contents of those cans may not be gourmet – although I can’t really say, because I don’t think I’ve ever tried one – but they’re probably modeled after this soup’s creamiest cousin. This version is a little light on the cream to qualify as “creamed,” but the bit of cream it does have gives a delicious mouthfeel.
TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes, start to finish (with lots of time for other things)
MAKES: 8 small servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bunches (about 1 1/4 pound) lacinato (a.k.a. dinosaur) kale, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
Grated cheese, such as Idiazabal, Parmesan, or Cheddar, for garnish
Heat a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. (You’ll need a pot big enough to hold all the kale before it wilts down.) When hot, add the oil, then the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper, stir, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, stir in the wine and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale is extremely tender. Add the cream, and carefully puree in small batches in a blender or food processor, or using an immersion blender. Return the soup to a pot over low heat, season again with salt and pepper, and serve, as is or garnished with cheese.