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Turkey Lentil Soup with Kale

May 3, 2012

Kale is magical. Exhibit A: this recipe for hearty lentil soup with turkey. The perfect cold and flu remedy, especially if you douse it with lemon juice and/or hot sauce. Just add kale and suddenly the soup also gets a boost of leafy green nutrition and freshness.*

The magic of kale is in its adaptability. There are so many savory dishes out there that could be improved by just adding (or substituting) kale. I’ve added kale to chickpeas and pumpkin in a tagine (blog post coming… someday). I used kale instead of spinach in this Saag Paneer recipe. I used kale instead of broccoli rabe in this awesome and garlicky pasta recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I make kale salads, kale chips, and kale with toasted coconut.**

Kale is so versatile, it can be tossed onto a tray in the oven or dunked in a soup at the last minute, and it will taste delectable either way. On the other hand, as I discovered with this recipe, if you happen to stir it into your soup a little on the early side, the kale will simmer away nicely for ages and will not disintegrate or wilt, spinach-style. The sturdy kale leaves hold up quite nicely and give the soup an extra dose of richness. (Is richness the right word? Yes, I think so. Or maybe I just associate kale a little too strongly with olive oil…)

Nevertheless, if I haven’t already scared away all of the vegetable-skeptics, let me also state in no uncertain terms that this satisfying soup is still ideal for chilly evenings, kale or no kale. It is best eaten curled up under a blanket on the couch, with a few slices of fresh-baked bread for sopping it all up.

Oh, and like many things I’ve blogged about here already, this turkey lentil soup was originally my girlfriend’s recipe. I just added kale.

* I can’t use the word “freshness” without being reminded of the chain restaurant Freshness Burger in Japan.

** And another kale recipe that has been on my to-cook list: Kale pesto.

RECIPE:

Turkey Lentil Soup with Kale

(Serves 4-8)

Ingredients:
~ 1 lb. ground turkey (extra lean)
~ 1 cup lentils
~ 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped, with wide stems removed
~ 5 cups chicken broth (or other stock)
~ 2 carrots, finely chopped
~ 3-4 stalks celery, finely chopped
~ ½ an onion, finely diced
~ 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
~ several tablespoons olive oil
~ 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
~ ½ tsp. each of cumin, paprika, chili powder
~ salt, black pepper, and chipotle to taste
~ lemon (or lime) juice to taste
OPTIONAL:
~ hot sauce to taste
~ fresh chopped cilantro to garnish

How to make it:

1. In a shallow pan, heat some olive oil, then add the turkey and season with salt, pepper, and chipotle or chili powder. Cook over medium heat with minimal stirring until the turkey meat is fully cooked (about 10 minutes).

        

2. While the turkey is cooking, start the soup: In a large stockpot, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and stir. Cook the onion, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and stir for an additional minute. Next, add the carrots and celery to the stockpot, stir, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, just until they’ve started to sweat and become tender.

3. Add the tomato paste and the spices (cumin, paprika, and chili powder, as well as salt, pepper, and chipotle to taste). Then transfer the cooked turkey to the large stockpot, and pour in the chicken broth. Raise the heat a bit to bring it to a low boil.

4. Once the soup has reached a boil, add the lentils, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 25-40 minutes. Wait to add the kale when it seems nearly done (in the last 10 minutes). It might seem like the kale won’t fit into the pot, but it will shrink down the moment it hits the simmering water and starts cooking.

5. The soup can be done as soon as the lentils are (20-25 min.), or you can simmer for even longer (up to an hour total) to develop more flavor (once the carrots, onions, and celery start to dissolve). Garnish with a squeeze or two of lemon juice, some freshly chopped cilantro, and a dash of hot sauce. Serve warm with toast or fresh bread.

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