Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Soupy Sue

As mentioned previously, I interviewed Sue LeBlanc of Chester Organics over the weekend. I suggested meeting at one. "Great!" she replied. "I'll make lunch." My four year old in tow, I trekked over to icy Otter Point Road outside of the village of Chester to visit her at home.

While our children played together (albeit slightly maniacally), Sue and I had a lovely chat. Our topics ranged from childcare to property values to government grants, but mostly we talked about food. Who's growing it, where to get it, and how to foster the development of a local and sustainable foods market. Her business acumen and focus bowled me over--Sue's the kind of woman who can soothe a child with one hand, balance the books with another, and provide nutritional counseling to her customers all the while.

As we talked, Sue cut onions, ripped kale, broke up some tempeh burgers, sauteed the whole shebang, then added goat's milk to make soup. Then she served it to us. Now, I'm fairly pleased with my kid's diet--he eats more whole foods and "good stuff" than most of his peers--but this seemed like a stretch, even for us.

Charlie stood in front of me and opened his mouth like a baby bird. I spooned in the soup. He swallowed. He contemplated. "Yum," he said, eyes widening. And opened up for more.

I, of course, ran home and bought some kale so I could strike while the iron was hot. It's close to the only green vegetable that's both fresh and local this time of year. Ted Hutten of Hutten Family Farm supplies it (and my carrots, and my potatoes, and my onions...) We made this easy bisque yesterday--not quite as wholesome as Sue's, but equally yummy.

Kale Bisque

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (I just use my mandoline for this)
1 large bunch kale
1 tsp salt (I like fleur de sel, but any salt will do)
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon paste (We use Better Than Bouillon from the Lunenburg Country Store
21/2 cups whole milk (We used cow's milk, but goat's milk is a fine substitute)

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add salt and onions. While the onions begin to sauté, rip the green leaves off the kale in shreds, leaving the ribbing for the compost. Add the shredded kale to the onions and sauté for about ten minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat to high. Simmer for about half an hour, until kale is tender. Turn off the heat and puree with an immersible blender (or, if you don't have one, pour the hot soup into a blender or food processor to puree). Add pepper to taste.

I had planned to add some grated parmesan at this point, but upon tasting I decided the soup was already perfect. Charlie gobbled it right up, and so will you.

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