The weather is shifting toward the cooler months and my mind wanders to soups and stews, root vegetables and warmth. A gradual introduction of heavier meals feels appropriate and I decided to make a light soup to get the digestive juices flowing.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my Azorean dad could, or perhaps preferred, to cook one or two things. One of them being Couves Soup. The Couves, or kale, grew on the hill next to the house we grew up in alongside the ubiquitous fava beans and under an ever-present cloud of white cabbage butterflies fluttering nearby.
I can’t exactly remember what was in my dads Sopa de Couves, but I do remember that is was simple. Brothy, fresh, with maybe a root vegetable or two thrown in to the pot. My version has a little more going on, and I suspect it’s closer to what you might find on mainland Portugal but just as simple and fresh as my dads.
Many of the recipes I found online called for linguica or chorizo. I wasn’t in the mood for something quite as oily as linguica (as much as I do love it) so I spiced up some ground turkey thigh and made turkey meatballs. I wanted to keep the flavors bright so instead of cooking the kale in the broth, I gave it a quick steam and added it at the end. The kale was crisp and flavorful and pleasantly lacked that sulfurous taste and odor you can get if you cook it for too long.
What you’ll need:
1lb white beans, cooked or canned
2 large leaves of Lacinato kale, cut into ribbons
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 lb ground turkey thigh
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 handfuls fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh oregano
2 tsp dried marjoram
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
16 oz chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
If you are using dried beans, soak beans overnight in cool water. In the morning drain and rinse the beans. Place beans in a large pot and add chicken stock and enough water so you can add the other veggies keeping the soup brothy.
After the beans have been cooking for about 20-30 minutes, add the carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and bay leaves.
In the meantime, oil a baking sheet or Pyrex and preheat the oven to 350. Place the ground turkey thigh in a large bowl; add crushed garlic, fresh oregano, marjoram, cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a generous sprinkling of paprika. Oil your hands with a bit of olive oil and stir and mash the turkey and herbs together until well blended. Make turkey meatballs by rolling a bit of the mixture in your hands. You want your meatballs to be bite size. Place meatballs in baking a dish and sprinkle a bit more paprika on top. Bake for about 30 minutes.
When the beans and vegetables are about cooked, place cut kale in your steamer and steam for about 10 minutes or until desired crispness.
Stir turkey meatballs into soup. Add fresh parsley and cooked kale to bowls when serving.
Serve with a hearty Portuguese red and a chunk of crusty bread smothered in butter.