Kale tasting at Community Park Elementary School

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February 27, 2012

Community Park Elementary School parents are invited to join their children for a lunchtime tasting on Tuesday, March 6, when Christopher Albrecht, executive chef at Terra Momo Restaurant Group (think Eno Terra), cooks up a fresh kale soup. He is using Tuscan (aka Lacinato or Dinosaur) Kale from the restaurants’ Canal Farm, in Kingston and from Whole Earth Center in Princeton (see photo, above), and Red Russian Kale from farmers Andrew Marchese and Chris Turse of Double Brook Farm, in Hopewell.

This tasting is the latest in-school event of PSGC’s Garden State on Your Plate, a program that brings chefs and farmers into schools to connect children to their food and their community. The program is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Chef Christopher says there are three tips that will set you on the path to success with this hearty soup: First, to ensure that leeks are cleansed of grit, rinse them well under running water, then cut into coins and allow to soak in cold water for a couple of hours, agitating them occasionally. Second, after peeling and dicing potatoes, prevent discoloration by submerging them in cold water until time to add them to the soup. Third, kitchen twine, used to tie the herbs together, is untreated and is available from kitchen supply stores. If labeled kitchen twine is unavailable, simply add herbs to the pot and fish them out later. Do not substitute other twine.

Tuscan Kale, Potato & Leek Soup
Makes 6 quarts, or 24 one-cup servings

1 bay leaf
6 thyme sprigs
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup white onion, diced
2 cups leek rounds, ¼-inch thick, white and lightest green part only, cleaned, drained and patted dry
8 cups peeled and diced white potatoes
2 cups heavy cream (substitute half-and-half or milk for a lighter version)
Cold water
6 cups rough-chopped Tuscan kale
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or cheddar or crumbled gorgonzola) if desired

1.Using 12- to 24-inch length of kitchen twine, tie bay leaf and thyme sprigs together, leaving a tail to tie to the handle of the pot. Set aside.
2.Heat vegetable oil in an 8-quart heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and leeks to pot with a sprinkle of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until they are soft and sweet but have not developed color.
3.Add potatoes and enough cold water to cover, then increase heat to medium until soup reaches a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, adding more water to keep potatoes covered.
4.Meanwhile, in microwave or on stovetop, heat cream to steaming, then add to soup, stirring to combine.
5.Heat soup just until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat; discard herbs. Puree in a food mill or blender until smooth. Chill.
6.Reheat soup to steaming, remove from heat, add chopped kale and puree again, leaving some coarseness to the kale. Serve immediately, garnished with cheese, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

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