Sneaking in for lunch, to serve up a soupish risotto that we had on Saturday, when my parents and nephew came for a visit. I see now I could have, and probably should have, scooted another bowl into frame, or the pile of spoons to my right, as this recipe makes a big ol' potful, and feeds a gang with abundance. But I was distracted, because of a rousing game of Battleship, because of a convoluted plan to secure my older brother's birthday gift, and because I was hungry. So a lonely, single serving it is, with a timid-seeming slouch of green and bronze and black. Still, it gives a good idea of everything you need to know.
The soup is maybe more of a stew, but either way, it is resolutely savoury, with a base of onion and anchovy upon which a risotto is started. Atop that goes handful after handful of the thinnest slivers of kale you can manage. It cooks some more, to tender acquiescence, until the greens and grain are languid in a saline slip of broth. But then, oh then, we loosen the business with more stock, then stir in bouncy quinoa, and walnuts that have been toasted and so strike an aromatic note that verges on sharp. The effect is taken to full-throated cheer by an exuberant amount of lemon zest and oil-packed chilies. It's the last few minutes there, the last few ingredients that change the soup's character entirely.
Now it comes across loud and clear; it is a soup that exclaims. The effect is ebullient, energy-enhancing, and bracing, simultaneously substantial and soothing while clearing the head and nostrils, and setting shoulders straight. The soup requires taking breath around each spoonful, the extra air needed for balance. It is mostly vegetables, granting a sense of piety and wholesomeness, toothsome without excessive weight. After the roasts, braises, gravies, marshmallows and custards of our lately, it was the jostling we needed.
Though I've not tried her recipe, this reminds of the cabbage and rice soup from Molly, via Luisa, that came from Marcella Hazan. I like how that version is all softness, harmonious with butter and a generous amount of cheese, and is closer to the recipe upon which this is based. I'll be making that one soon, when the momentum of this one wanes.
Hope your days have been happy and merry, and here's to the brightness ahead. Cheers, all.
BRAISED KALE WITH BLACK QUINOA + A BIT OF RISOTTO
A soupier, brasher, even more kale-packed adaptation of a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman via the New York Times.
Enough for 6.
- 7-8 cups good-quality vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 anchovy fillets or about 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- Salt, as needed
- 2/3 cup Arborio rice
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 exceedingly large (approximately 16 ounces / 454 g) bunch of kale, well washed, stemmed and cut into slivers
- 3 cups cooked black quinoa
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup (57 g) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Zest of half a lemon
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- Peperoncinio in oil or dried red pepper flakes
In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer.
Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy saucepan over medium heat (I used a 5-qt Dutch oven). Cook the onion with a generous pinch of salt until tender but without colour, around 3 to 5 minutes. When you think the onion is about a minute away from being ready, add the anchovies, stirring them into the onions and breaking them up with the back of the spoon.
Tip the rice and garlic into the pot, and stir until the grains separate and start crackling, around 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine while still stirring, and continue until it evaporates. Pour in about 1/2 cup of stock, and cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid is just about absorbed. Add another couple ladlefuls of stock, and continue in this fashion, stirring in the stock then adding more once the rice is almost dry. After 10 minutes, start adding the kale, in batches as necessary. Cook as before, with regular additions of stock, then stirring in between, until both the rice and kale are tender.
Stir in the black quinoa, most of the walnuts, the Parmesan and lemon zest. Pour in enough stock to wet everything to your liking, giving it all a few good turns in the pan to give the broth a chance to thicken. It should be lush and creamy. Check for seasoning, then serve straight away with more cheese, the reserved walnuts and the peperoncino.