I’ve been out of sync with my kale intake recently. It is usually my go-to green, but lately it has languished in my fridge’s back drawer, getting brittle and crumbly, long abandoned for more exciting produce. Feeling the need for its powerhouse nutrients in between these food rich holidays, and not wanting just another boring old kale salad, I decided on a soup. That way I could use an entire bunch of those curly greens but still insert some other flavors so dinner would be a bit more exciting. Za’atar toasted chickpeas added the flavor, texture and thrill element.
Come this new year, I plan to get back into my green smoothie routine. Blending, freezing and defrosting those mason jars full of scary looking liquid by the office space heater. Best way to breakfast. Throw in some chia and flax seeds, maybe some spirulina or chlorella? Go ahead and mock, you wouldn’t be the first one.
Try out this soup as a mini respite in between gravy slathered turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, cinnamon rolls and mocha cheesecake. A real nice accompaniment is cheddar toast, so it isn’t too healthy. Wouldn’t want your body to go into shock.
Potato, Leek and Kale Soup with Za’atar Chickpeas
Trim, clean and slice up 2 large leeks along with 1 shallot and a large sweet onion. In a soup pot, heat up a good sized knob of butter until it begins to foam then add a heavy drizzle of olive oil. Once it gets hot, add the sweet onion and shallot. Sprinkle some salt and let cook until just translucent, stirring once in a while. While the onion sweetens, roughly chop up one to four potatoes, depending on size and your preference. Finely chop 1-2 garlic cloves. When the onion is super soft and before it gets any coloration, add in the leeks. Stir to combine, add a bit more salt and oil if necessary. After the leeks start to soften add fresh thyme, a couple sprigs worth. Stir occasionally and watch to be sure they are softening and cooking but not browning. They’ll meld and almost look a bit goopy. Add in the chopped garlic and potatoes and stir all up. Let cook for another minute or two and add vegetable broth, a large carton full or more, depending on your pot size. Cover and bring to a light boil until the potatoes are very soft, 20-30 minutes. Stir and taste occasionally, adding salt as needed.
As the soup cooks, drain a can of chickpeas and heat up a good amount of high heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the chickpeas and add about a tablespoon of za’atar, adding some sesame seeds if you feel like it. Season with salt and pepper and fry the spiced chickpeas until crispy and dark brown but don’t burn! Let cool if they finish before the soup.
For the cheddar toasts, thinly slice up a baguette. I love the crust to be full of sesame and poppy seeds, great in partnership with sharp white cheddar. Slice up some sharp cheddar and lay a slice of cheese on each slice of bread. Toast in a hot oven until cheese just bubbles. Take out to cool.
Once the potatoes are pretty soft, add in the leaves of an entire bunch of kale. Stir up to completely wilt then take the pot off the heat. Using an emulsion blender ( or appropriately using a regular blender), blend up the soup until pureed. Include a glug or two of milk to make it creamy and blend to combine.
Serve soup with some toasted chickpeas, a swirl of olive oil and some fresh parsley. Cheddar toasts on the side for dipping purposes.