Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Warming Answer to Nature's Freak Show


Fresh air is great. So are vegetables from the backyard garden. Watching the deer mill about under the apple trees is a very pleasant sight just after the sun rises. But the thing I love most about living in the country is the subtle day-to-day change of the seasons. You need to pay close attention to notice it, but every morning comes a bit later these days, every evening a bit earlier--and the colors of the leaves and the sun are in constant, gentle flux.

Then, last weekend, we had a freak-show blizzard that ruined everything. As of this writing, we still don't have electricity at the farm. What we do have is perfectly frostbitten kale that came a little early this year, thanks to that snowstorm.


Kale, along with other dark, leafy greens (collards, cabbage), is resistant to cold weather thanks to its thick, succulent, waxy leaves and stems, which is why it's prominent in cooler-weather cuisines (Eastern European food exalts the cabbage). But the plant also contains off-putting chemicals whose bitter taste makes some folks wince. It has to do with things called glucosinolates, and you can check out Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking to learn more about this sort of stuff than you probably want to know. The point is that the colder weather mellows those off-putting flavors and lets the sweetness of the leaves come through.That's good news for me because not-so-subtle cold snaps demand a warming reaction: soup!


Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Soup
4 servings


1 cup dried navy beans, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch dinosaur kale (also known as Tuscan kale, black kale, and Lacinato; but feel free to sub in any variety of kale you may have)
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan


Drain beans, then transfer to a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by 2" (at least six cups). Add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, 1 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper and saute until onion is soft and garlic begins to brown, about 6 minutes.

Add onion mixture to beans in saucepan. Tear kale leaves into large pieces, discarding stems, and add to soup. Boil soup until kale is tender, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup sprinkled with cheese.


  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you.

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  3. Hello Mr.Knauer,

    Is there an email you can be contacted by?

    Thank you,

  4. Great recipe. I love theses winter soups and the hearty greens. I love using them as a bed for pork. I have a few examples at

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  8. thanks for sharing, nice blog and article