I've always considered March to be an unpleasant month. In the northeastern U.S., and particularly in New York City, it's still pretty much winter. It could rain or sleet, we could get bombarded by a blizzard, or we could wake up to a lovely, short-lived spring morning. But mostly, it's gray and cold. Tonight, it's chilly and rainy and windy, and it's Sunday. It's a perfect evening for a warming, and healthy, bowl of homemade soup. Italian-style, ovviamente.
This soup is something I made with 3 things in mind:
1. I wanted the soup to be a meal-in-a-bowl, and healthy.
2. I wanted to use the organic kale I'd bought at the market, which I purchased also in the interest of healthy eating.
3. I wanted to utilize pantry staples so the soup could be easily reproduced and made on a budget of very little -- and when you don't feel like braving the weather outside.
So, here you have it. Of course, it's even better if you soak and cook your own chickpeas, and if you have fresh tomatoes in season. But since it's March, and I'm a realist, I'll pick my battles and encourage you only to make your own stock. It's easy, it's inexpensive, and it makes your kitchen -- your whole apartment or house, really -- smell like home.
Zuppa di Cavolo Verde con i Ceci e Pomodori
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 stalks of celery, finely diced
4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 TBSP. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade is best)
1 small can (14 oz.) chopped San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 small can (14 oz.) chickpeas, drained from liquid and rinsed under water
1 head of kale (cavolo verde), or Tuscan cavolo nero if available, washed and dried
salt & pepper, to taste
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil until warm, and then add the onion, celery, and carrot. Saute on medium-low until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the white wine to the vegetables, and turn the heat up to medium until most of the liquid is cooked off.
- Add the stock and cover until it comes to a boil.
- Add the tomatoes and chili flakes, cover, and cook for approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking.
- With a sharp knife, cut the base of the head of kale off, remove any thick veins, and then slice through the leaves, horizontally, cutting the kale into strips about 1/4 inch wide, so the kale leaves become a sort of "confetti."
- Add the kale to the soup (the leaves will wilt). Stir, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.
* This soup, like most soups, is best served the day after it's made, allowing the flavors to develop and blend overnight.