One of the things I love about living in LA is that I can get great local produce. I don’t take advantage of this as much as I should, but I’m trying to make it a habit to buy local more often. In the past, I’ve really enjoyed getting CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes, which contain a mix of veggies and/or fruits from a local farm. Typically they’re very reasonably priced, and I feel like the one I use (South Central Farmers) is a great value – I don’t think you’d be able to buy all of those things individually for the price you pay for a CSA box, either at a farmers market or at a regular grocery store. What I’ve shown in the picture there is a mere fraction of what this box contained.
However, the challenge for a person who’s cooking for one is to try to eat all this food before it goes bad. Maybe for someone with a bigger appetite or a greater love for vegetables, but for me, there’s no way. Thus, I try to think of interesting ways of preserving things for the long term. I’ve tried canning a couple times, but I’m so neurotic that I get terrified I’m going to give myself botulism. Of course, being a medical librarian, I’ve looked up the facts on this. According to the CDC, these days foodborne botulism is both very rare (of just 145 botulism cases in the US on average each year, only 15% or 22 cases are related to food) and not generally fatal (only 3-5% of cases are fatal). Still, there are other ways to preserve things that are much easier!
I decided a good way to use up several of the vegetables in something that was easy to freeze was a soup, especially for those cold, biting Los Angeles winter days (ha). The email that I’d gotten earlier in the week had said there would be kale in the box, so I was thinking maybe a Portuguese-style kale soup. The one I ended up making was a variation on a recipe from some place called Gertrude’s Gallery that was featured on Rachael Ray’s $40 a Day Show. Several people were complaining in the comments that this wasn’t a traditional Portuguese kale soup, but I thought it sounded good and it also called for other veggies that I was expecting in the basket (carrots, turnips, and parsley).
When I got the box, naturally, it didn’t have kale in it. The boxes are packed depending on what’s available, so sometimes your box doesn’t have exactly what the email earlier in the week said. Instead, there was some broccoli, which I was happy to see, but it didn’t exactly do much good for this soup, for which I’d already gotten the other ingredients. Luckily, they’d left the greens on the turnips, and I was pretty sure it would work out to substitute one bitter leafy green for another. A quick glance in one of my favorite kitchen reference books, The Food Substitutions Bible, confirmed this was the case, and it actually turned out so good, possibly even better than I think kale might have been. The turnip greens seem a little more delicate and maybe slightly less bitter than kale. Plus, I love that I used pretty much the whole turnip.
The other thing that wasn’t quite to plan was the chourico. I think this must be similar to the hard, cured chorizo, but I wasn’t able to find that. Instead, I had to go with the uncooked kind, which came in a strange plastic casing that had to be removed before cooking (obviously). It practically disintegrated over the course of the time that it simmered, but it actually ended up working out fine. The spices from the sausage flavored the broth and made it just the tiniest bit spicy and very delicious.
This would be best served with a crusty piece of fresh-baked bread and a nice Portuguese wine. I had neither tonight, but I have a Duoro that I’ve been wanting to open, so maybe next time. I froze a bunch in 12 ounce mason jars, which looked like about a serving, so whenever I decide I want it, I can just pop a jar in the fridge to defrost before I go to work, and then it’s ready to warm up when I get home.
Update, 1/24 – having now eaten this as a leftover, I would leave the beans out next time. They were good the first time around, but had a weird texture the second night. Also, if you make this ahead and refrigerate it, you can take the layer of fat off the top to make this healthier and just as delicious.
Not-Really Portuguese Soup
adapted from Gertrude’s Gallery/Rachael Ray recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 onion, diced
3 turnips, diced (about 1/2 a cup)
5 smallish carrots, diced (about 1/2 a cup)
6 ounces chopped chorizo
the greens from the 3 turnips, coarsely chopped (remove as much of the stem as possible)
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
6 cups beef stock
1 15-oz can kidney beans
1 tomato, diced
1 potato, diced
- In a large stock pot, warm the oil over medium high heat, and then cook the garlic, onion, turnips (bot NOT the greens!), and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the turnip greens, bay leaves, and parsley leaves and stir to combine all ingredients.
- Add the beef stock, beans, and tomato, stir, and bring to a boil. After the soup has reached a boil, turn the heat down to simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
- In the meantime, bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook the potatoes for ten minutes and drain.
- After the soup has simmered for 35-40 minutes, remove from heat and add potatoes. Remove the bay leaves.
- Serve warm with Portuguese wine and crusty bread. Yum!