Sadly, I have pictures of neither. (Well, kale soup isn’t very attractive, actually, but I’m sorry I can’t show you the view.) I went down to Fairway in Red Hook this morning, my mouth still sore and sour from some hardcore dentistry on Thursday, intending to buy coffee and olive oil and root vegetables for mashing. Soft foods, you see, are called for. I dithered and wondered in front of the vast display of olive oils; no samples had yet been set out. Gloomy, uncomfortable, and indecisive, I decided to have a cup of milky coffee at the café, look out at the view of New York harbor, and read my library book, To Eat by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd.
The wind was blowing hard from the east, pressing wavelets out of the water; further out a low mist hung over the bay, and dark clouds towered on the southwestern horizon, while others moved quickly westward. Dock cranes in New Jersey traced white on the dark. Big barges moved up the river. Gulls struggled into the wind or found a way to glide, and a couple of ducks flew close to the water. Everything was damp, the red bricks of the dock warehouses darkened. When I turned away from the view, I read Eck and Winterrowd’s chapter on chard, which includes a short, simple recipe (from Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta) for Passato di verdure, greens soup, and decided I should have some of that. My tooth stopped aching. I finished my coffee, went back inside, tasted a bunch of olive oils and made a decision, backtracked to the produce section and picked up shallots and kale for the soup, and headed for the checkout lanes and home.
The soup is delicious. The book, too, is charming.
(How to make the soup? Put chopped carrot, chopped onion, chopped shallot, garlic, and shredded greens in a soup pot with olive oil and sea salt, cover with water and simmer an hour or an hour and a half, then blend. The recipe calls for celery, Swiss chard, spinach, and kale, but says you can choose whatever greens you like; since I’m making it just for me, I didn’t feel like getting four different kinds of leaves, so just used regular old kale. You are specifically not asked to sauté anything but since I threw the vegetables in as I got them chopped, the alliums and carrot wound up cooking for a while in the oil.)