Tuesday, October 9, 2012

White Bean Kale Soup

It's Fall, one of my favorite times of year. When the air is crisp and wood-fire smoke scent wafts on the breeze, I turn to comfort food -- especially soups and stews. This White Bean Kale Soup is a family favorite. 

I first experienced kale in academy, when I worked for a garden nursery and greenhouse. We planted hundreds of pots of flowering and decorative kale for people to use in their Fall/Winter landscaping. I never knew you could actually eat it! :0) Now that I am older, I've found that kale is a very versatile and delicious addition to our diet. Add it to smoothies, toast it into "chips", replace spinach or collard greens with it in soups, toss in salads...the possibilities are endless. And the best part? Listen to this: Kale is a nutritional powerhouse! Read Web MD's article here. 

"What makes kale so exceptional? Here is why it's a superstar vegetable -- One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw."  

Fantastic! I think I'll serve up another helping of soup... 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
32 oz. vegetable broth
4 cups chopped, de-veined kale
2 cups diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (14.5 ounces)  cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. salt
Pepper, opt.
1 tsp. dry basil or several leaves fresh basil, torn

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add basil, broth, kale, beans and tomatoes and cover. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the broth has reduced and soup is thickened slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan or parmesan style sprinkle and toasted crusty bread.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Scones

I've been trying to be thrifty lately. Making my own laundry detergent, frequenting thrift stores instead of heading directly to the department store, baking and pureeing my own pumpkin...I thought I'd save a lot of money by doing the latter. I didn't. Here's why. 

I bought two small pie pumpkins for $4.00 and only ended up with about 30 ounces of pumpkin. That's the equivalent of two cans of pumpkin at the grocery store. I'm pretty sure you can get a can of pumpkin for less than $2.00. So, in order to really save money, I need to get a gigantic pumpkin! I'm sure I can...I know I can...I WILL do better than a purchased can of pumpkin. Plus, fresh pureed pumpkin tastes better, in my humble opinion.

So, tonight I used my puree in two recipes. First I made Pumpkin Bars (archived recipe) to take for my daughters class tomorrow morning, and then I found a recipe by Iowa Girl Eats for Starbucks Clone Pumpkin Scones. They sounded delicious and easy. They are. I chose to use my food processor to mix the ingredients together, but you can use the bowl and spoon method, too. I altered her recipe, but you can visit her website for the original. Just click on the link above.

2 cups all purpose flour
7 Tb. granulated sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 Tb. canned coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer (Ener'G) whisked with 2 Tb. warm water
6 Tb. cold stick margarine, cut in pieces

Preheat oven to 425. 

In large food processor or mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices and mix well to combine. Add cold margarine in chunks and pulse in food processor until mix is the texture of dry biscuit mix. If you're not using a food processor, just cut the margarine in with fingers or a fork until it reaches the same texture. 

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree, coconut milk and egg replacer. Add to dry ingredients and pulse to combine, or stir until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times to bring the dough together, then shape into a circle about 1" thick. Cut the circle in half, then into quarters (making 8 equal scones).

Place wedges on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then transfer to a cooling rack. When scones are cool, top with these two delightful icings. 

Plain Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tb. canned coconut milk

Mix together in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Use half of the icing as the first layer. Allow to harden slightly before applying the spiced icing. 

Spiced Icing:
Add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of allspice to the remaining plain icing. Drizzle over the top of the plain icing. Allow to harden before eating scone. It will be hard, but you can do it.

Yield: 8 scones