Saturday, November 14, 2009

The best way to eat kale

During my first year of graduate school I lived in an apartment with girls I had found through a mutual contact. I didn't get to know them well, but I was able to gain some information from them occasionally, whereby I discovered that the apartment had been rented by them or someone they knew for the last two years or so, including summers, without any break. This meant that it had never been completely cleaned out, and that some of the previous residence probably were unaware of some of the things they had left behind. There were odd things, like a rusty old saw, a five piece ceramic cheese and pizza set decorated with french cheese labels, a body pillow, a Sunbeam stand mixer complete with two glass bowls, and various teas, cheesecake pans, and most of the condiments in the refrigerator.
The other girls did not know where any of it had come from or how long it had been there, only that it didn't belong to them (which I think they were wrong about on a number of occasions). One day I discovered an old food processor stuffed beside the refrigerator in its box from the late '70's. This had been my best find yet, and I excitedly experimented with this recipe for Kale Chickpea Soup, which I slightly modified from one I found epicurious. Dark green leafy vegetables aren't always my favorite thing, so I found this to be an excellent way to get those health benefits and still enjoy my dinner. Excited about how the food processor would add to my cooking convenience, I asked the girls in my apartment if they owned the food processor. Neither one thought so, though their grandmother had brought some stuff and that might have been in the mix. When the first girl moved out a few months later I was anxiously waiting...will she take it? will she not? Will she come back for it later. She didn't take it. But she did come back for it later.
I can't really complain though, after Lucy (my last roommate) and I moved out at the end of my two years there I walked out with a free game of Settlers of Catan, Taboo, various bakeware, a brand new pair of Puma cleats, and a collection of other things I sold at a yard sale for about $15 (including the mixer).

Every so often Nathanael will find something in our current apartment and ask, "When did you get this?" to which the constant reply is, "It came with my old apartment."

Kale Chickpea Soup

2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large boiling potato(3/4 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 lb kale, stems and lower center ribs cut out and discarded, then leaves very finely chopped in a food processor (4 cups)
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or bullion with water)
2 cups water
1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 links Italian hot sausage, cooked through by steaming in a pan then cut into thin half circles
* For vegan version omit sausage, add 1/2 teaspoon roughly crushed fennel seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek powder.

Cook onion, garlic, bay leaf and peppers in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until onion and garlic are softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add potato, kale, broth, and water and cook, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then add chickpeas and sausage and gently simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.


  1. Don't forget that I got a free brand new blender out of that apartment! And a nice blue spoon that we found behind the stove!

  2. All I remember, from the apartment is that it took me 3 extra full car loads to get stuff back to my house, 2 hours away; plus the wonderful lunches and conversations with Sarah and Lucy which helped the three of us to survive the hot days of cleaning the apartment and saying the final good-byes to a wonderful season of grad-school living.


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