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Baby kale makes this soup dino-mite

Baby dino kale and new potatoes speed up this recipe for Portuguese kale soup. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)
Young leaves speed up Portuguese kale soup

Nicknamed Portuguese penicillin, kale soup with sausage is a heart-warming, nose-opening anecdote to winter chills and ills. Made with chicken broth, it gets an extra dose of anti-cold home remedy.

Most recipes call for full-size kale leaves, stripped of their ribs, then chopped. The thick leaves take a lot of cooking to reach total tenderness. (Some Portuguese kale soup recipes recommend simmering for four or five hours.)

Save time and effort; use baby dino kale. With the potatoes and beans, it melts into a rich green broth.

In late winter, baby dino kale is plentiful; it’s ready to pick weeks before a fully mature plant. Baby kale also is more tender and less bitter than older kale. So why wait? Harvest early and enjoy.

Dino kale leaves have a distinctive bubbly texture. Wash well to remove dirt.
With its near-black curlicued leaves, dino kale has become a farmers’ market and gardeners’ favorite. More formally called lacinato or Tuscan kale, dino kale got its modern nickname because the strange bubbly leaves appear almost prehistoric. In the garden, it grows on a tall stem with lower leaves harvested first. By late spring, it looks like a little kale palm tree.

New potatoes also are ready now, making them a quick-cooking, easy substitute for full-size counterparts; no peeling necessary.

Linguica, a smoked pork sausage, is a traditional addition to kale soup. For this chicken version, Aidells' Chorizo chicken sausage worked great as a substitute.

Dino-mite Portuguese kale soup

Makes 8 generous servings

4 cups baby dino kale, washed
3 cups new potatoes, washed and quartered
8 cups (2 quarts) chicken broth
12 ounces Chorizo-style chicken sausage, sliced into coins
2 cups cooked red beans, drained
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare kale. Wash it well (especially the underside of leaves where dirt clings). Coarsely chop any large pieces.

In a large stockpot, bring 8 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add kale, potatoes, sausage and beans. Return to boil, then reduce heat. Stir in sherry vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Over low heat, simmer soup, covered, until potatoes are very tender, about 40 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Serve hot with crusty bread.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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