I have a bit of a weekly tradition surrounding kale. As everyone knows, kale is a superfood chock full of vitamins, anti-oxidants and fibre but honestly that sharp, bitter after-snap taste taste in a frigid breakfast smoothie is just too unfriendly for me to bear first thing in the morning. (Plus that thick, brilliant green reminds me of verdant pond scum or extra-terrestial poo … ) Yet many Sunday afternoons (usually around 4pm when I am composing earnest menu plans for the following week, often whilst enjoying some kettle chips and a glass of Chardonnay) – I will revisit the notion of kale and end up purchasing a large, frilly bouquet of the stuff which then sits resentfully in the crisper, eyeing me each time I open the fridge door. (By Thursday the kale is a limp, browner version of its former self and to assuage my guilt, I throw it onto the compost heap with the others).
And yet I hear my bright-eyed, marathon-running co-workers extolling its values with all the zeal of a tent revival (have I tried adding apple? A touch of sweetness will make all the difference!) and I feel shamed into trying again because who amongst us does not want to be healthier in a world where random illness seems to lurk around every corner and the illusion of some feeble kind of control (Kale=good) is appealing.
I try baking the kale. This is quite tasty – much better than the smoothie in fact – but how can there be any goodness left in it? “Kale Dust” would be a better title because essentially, this is autumn leaves with kosher salt. But I digress.
There is a happy kale ending. Although I feared that strong bitter taste would transmit to a soup this is absolutely not the case. I discovered this recipe for Kale and Chickpea Soup and with a bit of tweaking the results were delicious (just needed more red pepper flakes and a really generous goodly squeeze of lemon). Plus, it freezes magnificently. Whizzing everything up at the end is a must and although the results are still emerald green, you can feel the goodness as you eat.
I would not lie to you.