Even though it’s early April, there has been a return to below freezing temperatures and even colder wind in my neck of the woods, so a pot of soup seemed like the right dish for lunch today.
Kale is a green that grows in cool temperatures, so it is abundant in grocery stores (and farmer’s markets if they are open in your area) right now and will continue to be so until late spring.
I started making this soup recipe last fall, as a way of dealing with the abundance of kale I was getting in my CSA box. We had gone apple picking and I had some lovely sweet Cortland apples, which I knew would be perfect in this soup. The sweetness of the apples mellows the taste of the kale. I used a Cortland apple for my soup, but any sweet apple should suit. I wouldn’t use a tart apple like a McIntosh or a Granny Smith, as it would not soften the bitter taste kale often has the way a sweet apple does.
Adding bacon to kale is something I started doing years ago, in order to bribe Greg into eating kale. It’s true, I’m not above bribery to get him to eat vegetables. Bacon and kale go well together. The saltiness of the bacon complements the bitterness of the kale. If you have bacon that has lots of fat on it, this is the dish to use it in. Cooking the onion in the bacon drippings adds lots of rich flavour to the soup. If your bacon is too lean and doesn’t leave enough drippings to cook the onion, add some canola oil to the pot.
I use no salt added broth as I like to control the amount of salt that goes into my dish. If you use regular or even sodium reduced broth, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe. The bacon adds saltiness too, so not a lot of salt is needed in this soup.
I usually use my immersion blender for soups, but I found that mine isn’t able to handle the kale. Even cooked, the kale is too tough for it, and I can’t get a smooth texture. My regular blender does the job well, but it’s important to use caution when blending hot liquids. Let the soup cool a bit before blending, and don’t fill the blender jar more than half way. The heat builds up the pressure in the jar and can cause the lid to blow off. You don’t want to get sprayed with boiling hot liquid, as that would be incredibly painful.
I like adding a dollop of sour cream into my bowl of soup just before eating it. The sour cream adds a bit more richness and creaminess to the soup, but it’s an optional ingredient.
Recipe – Kale Soup with Bacon – makes 4 servings
- 1 bunch kale, about 9 to 10 ounces (250 to 280 g)
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 medium white onion, diced small
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 3 ½ cups (900 mL) no salt added chicken broth
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons light sour cream, optional
- Wash kale, remove stems, and coarsely chop.
- Place bacon in large pot, and cook on medium heat until bacon is a bit crispy. Remove bacon from pot and set aside.
- Keep bacon drippings in pot, and add chopped onion to it. If there aren’t enough bacon drippings in the pot to prevent onion from burning, add canola oil. Add a bit of salt, and cook for about five minutes, until onion start to become translucent. At this point, add the thyme, and cook for another minute or two, until the onion starts to brown.
- Add apple to pot, and continue cooking on medium heat until apple starts to soften, about three minutes.
- Add chopped kale, and cook until kale wilted, about three to five minutes.
- Once kale is wilted, pour a small amount of the broth into the pot, and deglaze bottom of pot, scrapping up the browned bits from bottom. These will add flavour to the soup. Pour rest of broth into pot, add rest of salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. In last minute of simmering, add bacon that was set aside at beginning.
- Take pot off heat, remove lid and let cool for at least five minutes.
- Transfer half of mixture into blender jar and blend on medium-high power for about 25 to 30 seconds, until soup has a smooth texture. Pour soup from jar into a large container, and then repeat with second half of mixture from the pot. Once smooth, pour into container with first half of soup, and mix together.
- Serve soup in bowls, add a teaspoon of sour cream if desired, and enjoy.