Author Notes: A rainy October afternoon in Seattle just screams "make soup" and, like most of my soups, this evolved from what was on hand. I struggle with restraint at times, especially when just making something up, but I think it came off pretty well here.
The soup on its own is delicious and open to variations, of course. The pistou used fennel fronds I had on hand but no reason you couldn't do just parsley, or basil, or some combination.
(Sorry about the photo, it's sideways and I can't quite work out how to fix that!) - Reiney
Makes 8 cups
Saffron Kale Soup
- 1/4 cup pancetta, diced (or use bacon)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup potato, diced (how many will depend on how big - I used 3 fingerlings)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon AP Flour
- 4 sprigs thyme, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- handful celery leaves (leave out if not available, I just picked the celery clean and tossed them in)
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Small pinches saffron (don't be excessive here!)
- 4 cups Kale, finely chopped
- 1/4 Stale baguette, cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a stock pot or dutch oven, sautée pancetta in olive oil until fat is rendered and pancetta is slightly crispy. Remove pancetta, set aside, leaving fat in the pot.
- Sweat onion, carrot, celery in fat with a generous pinch of salt until vegetables are slightly soft. Add tomatoes and potatoes with tomato paste.
- Toast tomato paste briefly and toss in flour, thyme, celery leaves, bay and saffron. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are well cooked, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a separate pot, heat remaining chicken stock and cook kale until soft but still vibrant, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving stock, and set aside.
- Blend soup together for at least a minute. Thin out with chicken stock to desired consistency and stir through kale. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a separate pan, toss bread in olive oil and a bit of salt, toasting on the stovetop until golden brown.
- Serve hot soup topped with a dollop of pistou, a few toasted bread cubes and some of the crispy pancetta.
Fennel Parsley Pistou
- 1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 2 green onions, dark to medium green parts only, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- In a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind all ingredients except oil to a paste.
- Add oil in slowly to make an emulsion.