Tag: Kale

Kale & Sweet Potato Soup

Kale & Sweet Potato Soup | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Kale & Sweet Potato Soup | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Kale & Sweet Potato Soup | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

We’ve turned on the heat. On the afternoons when the cold is seeping into my bones I nudge the thermostat up a couple of degrees. We’ve had four fires in our fireplace. Jonah even acquired one third of a cord of wood (which is a lot). I am drinking tea most mornings. The leaves are fiery red, more neon than I remember them being in years past. I think I’m so excited about all of this because I missed fall last year. I’ve always loved fall for many of the usual reasons: sweaters, tea, cozy gatherings with family and friends. But this year it all seems bigger. Last year we went pretty much straight from summer in Portland to more summer in Thailand, and then straight into winter in Germany. I missed my favorite season and some of my favorite ingredients.

But having more appreciation isn’t the only thing that’s different. There have been little things in our day to day lives that have altered since we started making this home. It seems silly, but I used to be very particular about leftovers, and often didn’t really like eating them very much. These days I am a leftover guru: combining bits from different meals to make something completely new and also really good (if I do say so myself). I am working on going with the flow more, and am getting better every day. And this season I am determined to confront my mediocre feelings toward soup. It’s not that I hate soup at all – I don’t even dislike it. But there is always something I would rather eat (the exception to this is matzoh ball soup). But with a new kitchen, a new dutch oven, and a new perspective on leftovers, I’m going to conquer soup.

I made this decision over a month ago when we arrived in Chicago for our wedding. Once we hauled our suitcases into the living room at Jonah’s parents’ house after a long day of travel, my mother-in-law asked if we wanted something to eat. She scooped rice into a bowl and topped it with this light coconut broth, simmered kale, and sweet potatoes. There was a healthy pinch of cilantro, and she got out the hot sauce for us to liberally drizzle over. I took one bite and was convinced that I needed to re-examine my relationship with soup. I ate this for the next three days for lunch, secretly sneaking into the kitchen for a slightly early lunch so I would get to it before Jonah’s family finished it off. It was selfish, but I couldn’t help myself.

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Kale Stem Pesto

Kale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerKale Stem Pesto // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I often find myself frustrated with how much stuff I put in my compost. I guess I should stop right there and say, at least I have a compost, right? The beautiful city of Portland has roadside pickup every week, making it so wonderfully easy to make more environmentally conscious choices. There aren’t a lot of cities that do that. Anyway, I know I could save some bones and carrot tops and onion tops and parsley stems for stock… But I just don’t do it. I mean, I do sometimes… But not as often as I should. And there’s one thing lately that I have always felt guilty after putting it in the compost: kale stems. Jonah and I eat a fair amount of kale – usually sautéed with butter and garlic or something like that, sometimes in a salad. But I always am frustrated at the toughness of the stems, and wish I could do more with them.

After a little research and looking around, I mostly found that people who do use their kale stems either sauté them with their kale, simply adding the stems first so they cook for longer, or put them in smoothies. I wasn’t really into either of these options, so I made myself a third one. With the all-in pesto in mind, and a container of pine nuts whining from my pantry, I got to work making some kale stem pesto. I wasn’t planning on sharing this pesto here, since the recipe is really improvised, but I got so many comments and questions about what it was when I posted pictures on my Instagram and Facebook, that I thought, why not? This pesto is certainly a product of whatever you’ve got around, which is generally my theory about pesto. Herbs are good, parmesan is good, and other than that, you can kind of go crazy. Nearly any kind of nut will work, any greens, and you can really play until you find some flavors that you like. I didn’t do any measuring here – mostly just throwing in handfuls of this or that – but below is an approximation of what I used.

The beautiful thing about pesto is that it can be a complete reflection of your kitchen: if you just went to the market and have some radish greens, use them. If you don’t have any pine nuts but plenty of pistachios or walnuts, use them. If it’s raining and you want something heartier, add more cheese.

We tossed our kale stem pesto with fresh spaghetti (you can find a recipe here) and topped it with sliced grape tomatoes, which added a really nice juicy brightness. I also like to make a thick piece of toast and slather it with fresh pesto.

Kale Stem Pesto


1 bunch of kale stems, plus probably the equivalent of 1 leaf of kale
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup parsley
~ 3/4 cup pine nuts
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil


Fill a small pot halfway with water, salt well, and bring to a boil. Roughly chop kale stems into about 1/2 – 1 inch pieces. Add to boiling water, and cook until stems are easily pierced with a knife. Drain and cool.

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), combine kale stems, a few small chunks of parmesan, about half the pine nuts, 2 cloves of peeled garlic, and a few glugs of olive oil. Pulse to combine. Add spinach, some parsley, and a hefty sprinkling of salt. The key here is to taste and add. If you want a little more spice, add another clove or two of garlic. If you want it creamier, more nuts, and olive oil. If you want it greener, add more spinach and parsley, or some fresh basil or chard if you’ve got some around.

Miso Creamed Kale

Miso Creamed Kale from Wafu // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I’ve posted about this miso creamed kale before, in a Weekend Finds post back in October. This recipe was recommended to me by a foodie friend, whose tastebuds I respect. So I was excited when I finally got around to making it. Easy, super flavorful, and wintry (most creamed veggie dishes are, in my opinion).

Miso Creamed Kale


3 Tbl unsalted butter (divided)
1 large shallot
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shimeji mushrooms with stems or shiitake mushroom tops, sliced into strips
1 Tbl soy sauce
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
1/4 cup white miso paste


In a large pan or skillet, melt 2 Tbl of butter over medium heat. Thinly slice the shallot and garlic, and add them to the pan, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Turn heat to low, and let the garlic and shallot cook for a few minutes until they’ve got a bit of color. Add the kale, and cook until it’s wilted.

While you’re cooking the kale, in another pan, melt the remaining 1 Tbl of butter over medium high heat. Toss in the mushrooms (whichever kind you’re using), and cook until… well until they’re cooked through and soft. Add the soy sauce to the mushrooms, cook for another minute, and remove from heat.

Increase the heat under the kale to medium high, and add the vermouth. Cook until it is just evaporated, then add the cream/half & half and the miso. You’ll have to do a fair amount of stirring to break up the miso and make sure everything is evenly distributed and combined. Turn your heat down to medium and cook for a couple more minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickens up a little bit. Top with mushrooms, and serve.

Botched: a meal gone awry

Botched: a meal gone awry // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Well, it wasn’t so bad really. But it was definitely a meal gone awry. Let’s start at the beginning.

Jonah spent Christmas in Minnesota with his family, and I spent it in Seattle with mine. Yet another extended period of not seeing each other (I can’t tell if it gets easier or harder every time…). So when I got back on Saturday, and I told Jonah that I needed to do some blogging but didn’t really have any material at this moment, we decided that, on Sunday, we’d make a big blog worthy meal together. We pulled out cookbooks, and decided on some drunken pork from the Toro Bravo book (the recipe called for juniper berries, which I had received for Christmas), and a kale and white bean crostini from another book we have called Street Food. We went shopping Sunday morning, did a bunch of prep work, and then headed off to the gym.

Fast forward a few hours, we’ve started the cooking. Pork tenderloin has been marinated, wrapped in bacon, skewered, and is ready to grill. Crostini with anchovy butter are in the oven. And then, things start to go awry. We had decided to double the bean recipe from Street Food (one of the three elements of the kale crostini) so that we had beans for both the crostini and to eat with the pork, and possibly even some leftovers. The single recipe, which called for one 14 oz can of white beans, said to cook the onion and jalapeño in a pot, then add the beans, then add 2 cups of water. 2 cups. Let simmer for 10 minutes or so, and then blend with an immersion blender. We were doubling it. Before I added the water, I looked at the pot, looked at 2 cups, and thought, hmm… this seems like a lot of water. And that was only half of what I was supposed to add! I asked Jonah if I should really add so much, and we decided to follow the recipe.

Botched: a meal gone awry // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Botched: a meal gone awry // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

At this point, Jonah goes out to the back deck to grill the pork. And then the grill runs out of gas. I’m sure there were more tanks in the garage, but we were about to be ready for dinner, so we didn’t really want to deal with setting it all up and then having the food be cold. So Jonah came inside and started cooking them on the stove, which was fine, except for the fact that they were skewered, and so the bacon wasn’t getting as cooked all the way around the pork.

Back to the beans. After over 20 minutes of simmering, there was still a crazy amount of water. But we blended it up anyway, and, of course, it ended up being more like bean soup. Shit. At this point we’ve got undercooked bacon, bean soup, and no beans for the crostini or the pork.

After all that effort and work and prep and being prepared! I felt so defeated. I didn’t even want to eat anything. After a few bites (and a few sips of wine), we finally started to laugh at all of it. The pork was perfectly cooked and really good, but the bacon thing was so disappointing – you really wanted the crispiness in there. I think next time I’d try it with something even thinner – maybe a prosciutto or pancetta? As for the beans, here’s what I learned: I need to listen to my instincts. Just because a recipe says to do something doesn’t mean it’s right. I’ve been cooking long enough to know my way around the kitchen, and when something sticks out as not making sense, I should have just adjusted. I felt disappointed in myself for that.

This post seemed appropriate as my first one in the new year. Lessons learned in the kitchen. Listen to your gut. Don’t let your expectations get out of control. Roll with the punches. We’re going to make that bean soup into something stellar. Add a cheese rind and some kale, ribollita style. Always recovering.

(Photos in the post are of the meal before I gave up on it becoming a post.)