Asheville Eats Tuscan Kale Soup

Asheville Eats Tuscan Kale SoupTis the season for kale and this year kale is a big deal. Health nuts have been singing the praises of kale, much to the chagrin of the rest of us, for years. However this year, everyone seems to have gone kale crazy. Everywhere you look it seems like restaurants are adding kale salads and dished to their menu. While some of us have been a tad reluctant to jump on the kale train, there's at least one recipe where we have to admit, it's not altogether bad.

 A Family Favorite!

This is one of my family's favorite recipes, to the extent that not even North Carolina's most sweltering summers have stopped us from eating it. The only things we've found with this recipe that might need tweaking is the amount of liquid you put in. My family likes to add 1-1.5 cup of a semi-dry red wine (our favorite is Merlot) in addition to the chicken broth and liquid from all the beans and tomatoes. Depending on how long you leave it to cook, you may need to also add more liquid. The portions listed in the recipe may cook down and evaporate until it's really more of a Tuscan Kale Stew-Hot-Salad type of dish (which is still delicious!). You can add extra chicken broth or a little extra wine. If you add wine, just make sure to give it enough time to cook out most of the alcohol, so it's a kid safe meal. Naturally, we also like a glass of Merlot with our soup, but it's also excellent with a cold beer. So feel free to play around local brews and wine while you're making this soup and don't forget to get your produce for it from the local Farmers' Market!

Green Magic

Kale is one of the best vegetables you can eat and even supersedes spinach in the health benefits it possesses. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 in kale all support heart health and decrease the risk of heart disease. It should also be noted, that a high potassium diet has been related to a 20% decrease in deaths of all causes. Kale also has a high content of vitamin K, which increases bone health and strength and therefore reduces the risk of fractures and breaks. In fact, one cup of kale has 550 micrograms of vitamin K, which is more than 680% our daily requirement. In addition to being good for your heart, the fiber in Kale is also excellent for digestion and partners with the water in the stomach to flush your digestive tract of buildup and toxins. Kale is also a great source of vitamin A (which keeps hair moisturized and encourages tissue regeneration all over the body), vitamin C (which is one of the building blocks of collagen, which provides healthy structure for skin and hair), as well as iron (the lack of which is a common cause of hair loss). Read here for a more thorough explanation of the benefits of Kale in a balanced diet and the risks of eating too much Kale.

On the Note of Kid Friendly Eating...

A study by the US Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data Laboratory calculated 85% of alcohol remaining in a dish after being added to boiling liquid and removed from heat. However allowing the alcohol to simmer on the stove with your sauce/soup allows more alcohol to burn off. The results are as follows:
  • 15 minutes simmering - 40% remains
  • 30 minutes simmering - 35% remains
  • 1 hour simmering - 25% remains
  • 1.5 hours simmering - 20% remains
  • 2 hours simmering - 10% remains
  • 2.5 hours simmering - 5% remains
If you're curious about different methods of cooking and the rates at which alcohol is burned out, you can read a more detailed summary of the study listed above.

Happy cooking and feel free to post pictures and comments about your experience trying this recipe!

Recipe for Tuscan Kale Soup

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