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Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Local Kale, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Soup

This month, Vance and I threw together our first family cookbook. It's scheduled to arrive this Tuesday from Blurb, and I am probably disproportionately excited about it. When the Fed Ex guy rings the doorbell I imagine myself running full sprint through the office, knocking over whoever might be in the way, to get to the door first. Imagine what I'll do when I actually write a "real" cookbook!

I've already started thinking about next year's edition. I want each of the recipes to be an original, which is a huge undertaking for me. I'm very comfortable following someone else's instructions, knowing it was good enough when they made it to publish in a book or magazine; it's another thing entirely for me to conjure a recipe on my own.

I'm also planning to make it more seasonal and locally oriented, featuring whatever happens to be growing around us at the time. With all that in mind, I present to you the first recipe for the 2011 Kite Cafe cookbook.

Local kale and squash soup, in preparation for whatever sinful foods we'll eat at the @IZEA Xmas party tonight!

I shall call this "the one that made me feel better about that lobster mac 'n cheese." Or, "the one that takes more calories to prepare than it does to burn off" (okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch). Or how about, "the one that contained kale and didn't set off my gag reflex." I think I've really got something with that last one.

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Serves 4-6 This recipe features locally grown kale, sweet potatoes, and tomato. If tomatoes aren't growing near you this type of year, you can skip them. They were just sitting on the counter, begging to be thrown into the soup last minute.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale
  • 1 tomato, cut into large dice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock would also work)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ lb. your favorite bulk sausage (vegan if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Crispy onions (optional)

Preparation

Wash the kale. I like to do this in a water bath with a few splashes of white vinegar in a clean kitchen sink. It brightens the leaves and firms them up (especially if they've been in the fridge for a day or two). Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally for seven minutes. Add the garlic and sweet potato; stir to combine. Sprinkle generously with cracked pepper. Reduce heat to medium. While the vegetables are cooking away, de-stem your kale. Stack up all of the kale leaves and cut into thin ribbons, about 1/3 inch wide. Add all of the kale to the pot; stir to combine. Add the wine and wait about 30 seconds, until the sizzling subsides. Stir in the water and stock.

Jamie's Shrimp & Grits

[caption id="attachment_301" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="The cover of Tupelo's Evening Menu"][/caption]

It's September, which means the beginning of apple season, the beginning of the end of tomato season, and the end of my grandfather's yearly visit to North Carolina. The past couple of years, Vance and I have driven to North Carolina on a Thursday night in late September, only to turn around and drive Papa back to Florida Sunday morning. This year, though, we're staying an extra day. It's just too beautiful to miss the start of Fall! While we're there, we'll visit a bit of Asheville's Foodtopian Society — namely, the Tupelo Honey Cafe.

I learned of Tupelo on TripAdvisor when we were there in July. We tried to brave their Saturday dinner rush, but chose a nearby brewpub in lieu of the 3-hour wait at Tupelo. The restaurant was unforgettable, though, and not just because I have their business card floating around in the bottom of my purse. This time around, we'll get in line early. I'm not missing out on Low Country Tuna or Cajun Skillet Catfish twice.

Yes, I've committed a portion of their menu to memory. Is that weird?

[caption id="attachment_306" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Shrimp and Grits, served here with some tomatoes and succotash."][/caption]

The inspiration for this dish came from another item on their menu: Brian's Shrimp & Grits (SHOO-Mercy style):

Brian's Shrimp & Grits
Seven large shrimp served over goat cheese grits in a spicy roasted red pepper sauce
SHOO-Mercy: A dozen shrimp with andouille sausage, caramelized onions, spinach and mushrooms

I made this during a recent trip to West Palm, so I left out some of the ingredients that would have given the dish more nutritional value, but would have had fewer family members interested in eating it! So my version has the andouille and caramelized onions, but omits the spinach and mushrooms. If you're a fan of the latter two, by all means incorporate them into your version!

Jamie's Shrimp & Grits

Serves Six. This particular dish — Brian's Jamie's Shrimp & Grits — was inspired by my time spent ogling the Tupelo Honey Cafe Menu. I've never eaten there, so I'm sure their version and mine are night and day. But this one is delicious in its own right. Serve with a green salad; you'll feel better about yourself afterward. (Haha)…

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo, roughly chopped (you won't need nearly 1 can — reserve the rest for another use)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika (you can use sweet instead of hot if you like a milder sauce)
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Grits Ingredients

  • Enough grits for 6 people, prepared according to package directions
  • 2 links andouille sausage, cooked and chopped
  • Small log of goat cheese
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon

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