Friday, February 4, 2011

Kitchen Sink Chili Soup

My friend was trying to help me come up with a name for this soup, and as she thought it had some good Italian leanings we were trying to look up how to say "kitchen sink" in Italian.
We failed.
That, or "Acquiao Chili Soup" sounded even more unclear to us.

The "kitchen sink" aspect of this soup comes from the fact that when I first made it, I was simply using up items in my fridge, which often leads to tasty cooking discoveries. This time I had some almost-wilting kale, the usual celery and carrots, and some leftover rosemary pork tenderloin from dinner that wasn't enough for a meal by itself. So, I diced it up and put it in the bottom of my bowl when I ladled the soup on top... and it was DELICIOUS!

Other guests to this party (read: soup) include shallot, garlic, chicken stock, white wine, white beans (always in the pantry for adding body, protein, and fiber), cumin, oregano, & chili powder.

You may recognize the seasonings from my favorite Chicken & White Bean Chili. Well, that's why this soup was named Kitchen Sink Chili Soup. Also, if you have swiss chard or some other hearty winter green, by all means use that. I just buy (and thereby cook with) kale the most because it is so heavily packed with vitamins and other good things, and it really does stand up to sitting in a pot full of hot soup, unlike spinach and arugula.

Step one: soffritto. Dice 1 medium shallot, 2 medium carrots, and one long stick of celery and sauté in olive oil on medium heat until tender with a pinch of salt.

More fun with macro
I separate the stems of the kale and dice them to a similar size as the soffritto and throw them in the pot to soften at the same time.

While these four ingredients are softening, chop up the greens of the kale and set aside. Take 2-3 cloves of garlic and finely chop them as well, and measure out 1 tsp of cumin, 3/4 tsp oregano, and 3/4 tsp of chili powder.
When the veggies have softened (less than 10 minutes if you've done a fine dice) add the garlic and spices and allow them to cook out another minute.

Note: It is possible at the end that you might want to add a bit more seasoning. I find that the beans can absorb a lot of salt and other seasonings, and sometimes I need to adjust before serving.

See that? That's how much white wine I used.
Less than or up to 1/4 cup. Just enough for a little background depth of flavor, and something for the garlic to simmer in for another minute or two.

Next add your chopped kale leaves and about a cup of chicken stock.
Stir, add the lid, and allow the kale to wilt down a bit.
While that's happening...

Notice how the circumference of the can is slightly wider than the circumference of my immersion blender? I love this trick.
I remove the white beans from the can and rinse them in cool water in a mesh strainer. Then I put half the beans back in and add just enough chicken broth to cover them, and then I use the immersion blender inside the can to purée the beans. Two rounds of that and a little extra stock to rinse out the can and I have saved myself a lot of cleanup.
You, however, do not need to purée your beans in your soup.
I'm just weird about white beans and like them to be invisible.

Add your beans to the pot and fill with however much stock makes you happy for your soup. If I'm in the mood for broth-y soup I probably use around 3 cups. If I want it thicker, less than 3 cups, OR I add another half can of puréed white beans to the mix.
Salt your soup again, as the beans will absorb.
Bring up to a simmer and check for any other seasoning adjustments.

Now comes the time for the leftover rosemary pork tenderloin. Dice it into bite-sized pieces and portion it out into the bottom of your serving bowls and ladle the hot soup on top.

I garnish with a little grated pecorino cheese and call it tasty.

Yes, this soup is still good without the leftover pork, but I HIGHLY recommend not skipping that step. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor. And do not throw it into the actual pot of soup, because then it will cook through all the way and lose all of that velvety tenderness that you got buy cooking it to a perfect light pink the night before. Just put a diced portion in the bottom of each bowl of soup and allow it to warm through that way, and they will be little gems of surprise deliciousness.
You won't regret it.
Unless you're kosher...

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