That may sound like the most unpromising dish I have posted in a while but, believe me, this is extraordinary. I proofread Rory O’Connell’s book, Master It, a few years ago and thought then that it was incredibly insightful and helpful, for kitchen novices as well as the more experienced. And every time I use it I am more convinced by its worth.
This soup, for example, which O’Connell calls a broth, is a marvellous place to start. Both refreshing and comforting, it is simple to make yet complex in flavour and it opens up, for me at least, the prospect of trying soups with only a few ingredients, and not blending them, so that each ingredient is distinct.
I have cut the amounts in the original recipe (which apparently serves 4-6) in half and my only gripe would be that I think the amount of kale is wrong. The recipe says 600g (of the leaves, de-stalked) which is an awful lot; I think about 50g of leaves per person, for a main course, is plenty.
Obviously, it is cheap, storecupboard-friendly and one-pot too but, for once, those aren’t the reasons I made it. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe and thought it had to be too good to be true. It’s not.
Kale, lemon and Parmesan soup (adapted from Master It)
Makes enough for 2
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
potato, 1 medium (so about 90g)
onion, ½ (again, about 90g)
garlic, 2 cloves
butter, about 25g
chicken stock, 500ml (homemade is best but a decent shop-bought one will be fine too)
olive oil, to finish
salt and pepper
kale, about 100g (buy a bit more than that, since the weight doesn’t include the stalks)
Parmesan, a couple of tbsp (once grated)
lemon zest, a couple of tsp
1. Peel the potato and onion and cut into small cubes/pieces. Peel and crush the garlic.
2. Melt the butter in a large, lidded saucepan over a very low heat (so it just foams but doesn’t colour) then add the potato, onion and garlic. Season, then turn the vegetables in the butter to coat them. Cover, in the pan, with a butter paper or piece of baking parchment, then put the lid on and cook very gently until the vegetables are just tender (no more, since they will cook further and you don’t want mush). This should take about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the potato pieces.
3. Meanwhile, cut the central ribs/stalks out of/off the kale and tear the leaves into small, bite-sized pieces.
4. When the vegetables are ready, add the chicken stock, stir well and cook, again on a low heat (so barely a bubble), for about another 8 minutes (or until the potato is done but still not collapsing).
5. Taste the soup and season it, then add the kale, stir well and cook gently, uncovered, until soft (again, this will take about 5-10 minutes).
6. When the kale is soft, taste and season the soup again if necessary, ladle into bowls, then grate/sprinkle over the Parmesan, lemon zest and dress with a little olive oil. Eat immediately.