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What Is Kale Soup?

Kale.
Tofu can be used to replace the meat in vegetarian versions.
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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
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Kale soup is any soup that has kale as one of its main ingredients.‭ ‬The kale plant is hardy and grows in many areas around the world.‭ ‬Depending on the area where the kale is growing and that area's‭ ‬local‭ ‬culinary traditions,‭ ‬the soup can‭ ‬take on‭ ‬different‭ ‬characteristics.‭ ‬The‭ ‬version that is most often considered classic‭ ‬kale soup ‬is from Portugal.‭ ‬Portuguese kale soup contains kale,‭ ‬potatoes and sausage cooked in chicken stock.

The strong flavor and thick,‭ ‬meaty leaves of a kale plant make them perfect for long,‭ ‬slow cooking.‭ ‬By boiling the leaves in a liquid,‭ ‬most of the vitamins and minerals are preserved and the water or stock is flavored.‭ ‬Cooking kale this way‭ ‬also softens the leaves so they are easier to eat and digest.

Traditional Portuguese kale soup begins by‭ ‬sautéing onions,‭ ‬red pepper and garlic.‭ ‬A Portuguese sausage called linguica is added to the oil to saute. A number of other ingredients are added, including potatoes and tomatoes.‭ ‬Water and chicken stock are added along with kidney beans and, finally,‭ ‬the kale.‭ ‬This entire soup is taken to a boil and then allowed to simmer for‭ ‬20‭‬ to 30 minutes.

In Africa,‭ ‬specifically southeastern Africa,‭ ‬kale can be boiled in coconut milk.‭ ‬The resulting soup later has ground peanuts and spices added to it.‭ ‬This is poured over rice‭ ‬to be eaten or can be served over ugali,‭ ‬a type of cornmeal mush.

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Brazil has a classic dish called caldo verde,‭ ‬which means green soup in Portuguese.‭ ‬It is nearly identical to Portuguese kale soup except that shaved beef is substituted for the sausage.‭ ‬The‭ ‬robust taste of the dark kale greens is not lost when paired with the shaved beef in this dish.

In Kashmir,‭ ‬kale is harvested slowly over‭ ‬the course of the entire season‭, ‬causing the plant to produce more leaves than usual.‭ ‬The leaves are used in a simple kale soup made from water,‭ ‬salt and oil.‭ ‬This soup is served over rice or alongside meat.

Variations of kale soup in the United States include a vegetarian soup‭ ‬that either replaces the meat with firm tofu or simply does without meat and its substitute.‭ ‬Kale also is frequently added to vegetable soup to give it body and extra nutrition.‭ ‬Other popular variations are chicken soups that include finely diced kale‭ ‬and bean soups that integrate the distinctive kale flavor into a rich base.

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