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Baby kale makes this soup dino-mite

Recipe: Young leaves speed up making of Portuguese kale soup

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

Kale leaves in a colander
Dino kale leaves have a distinctive texture.
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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

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

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

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

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

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

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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