You have some serious hutspa, that's for sure. From what I've gathered, it's a build up of sugar that makes you so strong. You use the sugar to push water from inside your cells into the extracellular zone, where it can freeze without doing you any harm. Now who came up with that?
Whoever it was, I think we both owe them a tremendous thank-you. You survive the winter, and we have charming winter greens. Hurrah!
The funny thing is, the person I met you through planted you by mistake. She meant to plant Eastham turnips, but picked your seeds up instead. I'm guessing you knew that all along, but chose not to say anything. I understand.
But the long and the short of it is, you turned out to be a wonderful mistake. Not necessarily financially, as you require quite a bit more work, but for those of us who simply can't take another day of root vegetables. In that department, you've been a miracle worker. Especially for the shoppers at Orleans' Phoenix Fruits. You get dropped off there most weeks—when the snow has melted for a moment or two, allowing your planter to pick—in a big, red, bushy case. She thaws you out in a bowl of warm water, lets you regain your strength, pats you dry, and you're off. You're Red Russian kale, after all, not just some everyday face. You could run out any day, any storm now, but that's okay. You're doing everything you can to see us through.
I like you especially in soups. The other day your planter left you for me in a cooler by her field, and I conjured up a big, burly pot of Portuguese kale soup: sausage and Maine kidney beans, stored potatoes, onions, and garlic, a bit of beef broth, and crushed tomatoes I'd put up towards the end of summer. It is one of my very favorite soups. You cooked down to the perfect consistency—hardly limp and lifeless like spinach—but instead soldiering on, limber and proud.
I can't thank you enough.
PORTUGUESE KALE SOUP
adapted from a recipe that Mac's Seafood serves at their clam shack on the Wellfleet Town Pier
1/2 to 1 pound (depending on which of these you choose, and how "meaty" you want the soup to be) sausage, chorizo, or linguica, in bite-sized bits
1 medium-sized white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups red kidney beans, soaked overnight, or until soft (simmer in water before adding to soup, if needed)
3 medium-sized potatoes, diced
1 quart crushed tomatoes
1 quart beef broth
1 large bunch kale (I used Red Russian, but whatever you can find locally will work)
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté whatever meat you choose in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. When it has rendered a good amount of fat, add onions and garlic, and sauté until translucent. Next add potatoes, sauté for several minutes more, and then kidney beans. Keep stirring and season with salt and pepper to taste (but remember you will be adding beef broth, which adds salt).
Deglaze the pan with about a cup of the beef broth, let it reduce by about half, and add the rest along with the crushed tomatoes. Depending on how juicy your crushed tomatoes are, you may need to add a bit of water at this point. Bring soup to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Throw in the kale and taste again for salt and pepper, adding seasoning as needed. Continue stirring from time to time, and cook until liquid has reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2 and has formed a nice, slightly thick broth.
Serve hot. This soup is especially good peasant style, with a chunk of hard white cheese and a hunk of county sourdough.