February Kale Soup

February Kale Soup with turkey sausage, chickpeas, and feta.

After a great weekend in the Poconos with friends, indulging in things like skillet lasagna (thanks, Kate!), birthday cake, and plenty of fancy cocktails, we were craving a cozy but healthy meal to bring our Sunday to a close.

We have lots of homemade turkey stock from Thanksgiving in the freezer (thanks, mom!), so we started with that as our inspiration. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up a few ingredients that sounded like they’d make a good wintry soup: turkey sausage, chickpeas, and kale.

February Kale Soup with turkey sausage, chickpeas, and feta.

The kale soups we’ve had in the past have been a bit bland, so we picked hot Italian turkey sausage and added a hint of chili powder. Nothing too spicy—just enough to keep it interesting. It turned out pretty mellow, so the last touch was to top with a sprinkle of feta, which turned out to be the perfect salty, melty touch that tied it all together. It’s a keeper.

We’re not sure if the kale will reheat well. Anyone have tips on that?

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February Kale Soup
from the kitchen of Sarah & Scott Zero

Serves 4 – 6

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 hot italian turkey sausages
  • ½ lb. small new potatoes, quartered
  • ¼ c. onion, chopped
  • ¼ c. carrots, chopped
  • ¼ c. celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 3 c. chicken stock (or whatever you have)
  • ½ bunch kale (stalks removed), chopped
  • 28 oz. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  • feta

Remove the sausage from the casings and brown on high heat in sauté pan. Remove sausage and add a tablespoon of olive oil and the potatoes to the pan. Sprinkle potatoes with a bit of salt and let them cook for a few minutes at a time between stirring. Once golden brown, remove from heat.

In a large stock pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté on medium-high until translucent, stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Stir in the chili powder and immediately add the stock and two cups of water. Bring to a boil, stir in the kale, and reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Add in the chickpeas and potatoes and simmer for another five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Spoon into bowls, top with a sprinkle of feta and a pinch of chili powder. Enjoy.

Mushroom & Thyme Soup

Mushroom Thyme Soup (Vegan)

It has taken a few tries to get this recipe right, and I think we’ve done it. Get ready for a thick, creamy, mellow mushroom soup that is also healthy (vegan, in fact!). No cream, no butter. How is this possible, you might be wondering? What’s a mushroom without butter? What’s the secret?

Grapeseed oil. We had never cooked with grapeseed oil before. It has almost no scent at all (ok, so butter has it beat there), and a very high smoke point. That means you can get the oil super hot—enough to get beautifully golden brown ever-so-slightly crispy mushrooms without a stinky smokey mess. If you’ve ever tried sautéeing mushrooms with olive oil, you know what I’m talking about.

Give it a shot.

Mushroom Thyme Soup (Vegan)

As for serving suggestions, it’s good enough to have a bowl for dinner. However, Scott brought up the question, “even though it’s delicious, do you really want to eat a bowl of mushrooms for dinner?” So if you’re more a cup-of-soup kind of a person (rather than a bowl), this would be great with a crunchy, lemony-dressed salad. And a glass of red wine.

Let us know what you think.

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Mushroom & Thyme Soup
from the kitchen of Sarah & Scott Zero

Serves 4 – 6

  • 2 c. dried shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 T. grapeseed oil
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 c. fresh portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • ¾ c. dry red wine
  • 2 T. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ c. vegetable broth
  • 1 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add dried mushrooms and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes to reconstitute them.

Heat a pot with 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and sautée the onion and garlic until translucent. Set onions aside and add 2 cups of the fresh mushrooms to the pot, with another tablespoon of oil, and sautée using high heat until browned. Add wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan (about 3 minutes). Return the onions to the pot.

Add the reconstituted mushroom mixture to the fresh mushroom pot. Stir and combine well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer. Add the thyme, broth, and chickpeas. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

In the meantime, sautée remaining cup of fresh mushrooms in the last tablespoon of oil so they are warm and crispy when the soup is ready.

Once the soup is cool, blend thoroughly until smooth. Reheat, add salt and pepper to taste, and top with sautéed mushrooms. Yum.


Photos by Sarah and Ampersander Studios

Crunchy Thai Salad

Crunchy Thai Salad

Looking to add a little color to these cold gray days of January? We are loving this new salad recipe with Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, peanuts, chili sauce dressing, and more. This one is great for a crowd, and—unlike most salads—keeps very well for a day or two. In fact, the cabbage holds up so well that we decided we might even like it better on the second day.

Crunchy Thai Salad

One recommendation I do have is that you taste-test your chili sauce as you are adding it to your dressing. Ours turned out to be quite spicy, and I imagine different brands have different amounts of heat. Always best to err on the mild side if you’re making a large batch to share with a big group.

Crunchy Thai Salad

We’re definitely looking to bring more winter salads into our recipe repertoire. Do you have any favorite Napa cabbage or kale salads to recommend?

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Crunchy Thai Salad
adapted from How Sweet It Is

Serves about 4.

Salad

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • 1  napa cabbage, chopped
  • ½ red cabbage, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1  cucumber, peeled, sliced and quartered
  • ½ c. carrots, chopped
  • ½ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¾ c. roasted peanuts, chopped

Dressing

  • ¼ c. sweet chili sauce
  • ½ c. rice vinegar
  • ¼ c. coconut milk
  • 6 T. brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 2 t. fresh grated ginger
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 T. soy sauce

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spritz a baking dish with olive oil spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in the baking dish.

Combine chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, sugar, garlic, peanut butter, ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce in a saucepan, whisking to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and pour half of the sauce over the chicken, coating it thoroughly. Set remaining sauce aside to dress the salad.

Bake chicken for 25-30 minutes, or until it is cooked through.

While chicken is baking, combine all salad ingredients (except for half of the peanuts) in a large bowl and toss with the remaining dressing. When chicken has finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes, then thinly slice it. Serve salad, top with chicken, top with remaining peanuts.

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic

Here’s another super simple how-to recipe for anyone who doesn’t know just how beautifully easy it is to roast garlic. If you haven’t had it before, imagine a creamy, much more mellow version of garlic that is soft enough to spread over crusty crunchy bread or whip into mashed potatoes. It’s a treat, it takes less than five minutes of prep time, and it makes your kitchen smell amazing.

Roasted Garlic Roasted Garlic Roasted Garlic You can even make it ahead of time, which is ideal for mashed potatoes on occasions like Thanksgiving when the oven is reserved. However—ahem—it’s probably not ideal for occasions like a first date. Do you have a favorite way to indulge in roasted garlic?

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Roasted Garlic
from the kitchen of Scott Zero
(and probably anyone else who roasts garlic)

  • 1 head of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 425°F. First, slice off the top of the garlic head—enough to expose the tops of each of the cloves. Tear off about a 10″ square of aluminum foil and place the garlic in the middle. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Pull up the corners of the foil, then the rest of the edges, and squeeze into a pouch, being careful not to leave any openings where the oil will seep out. Take care not to create any holes in the bottom—if you do, simply add another piece of foil. Place in the oven and let it be for 45–60 minutes, depending on how creamy you want it to be. Remove from oven, let cool, and scoop out cloves with the tip of a butter knife.

Asian Brussels Sprouts

Asian Brussels Sprouts

Rumor has it that Brussels sprouts are the hot new food, and I’m on board. Our favorite way to have them is to toss them in olive oil and roast them in the oven, but this time we decided to give them a little kick to tie them in with an asian-inspired Christmas Eve menu.

Asian Brussels Sprouts

The great debate was whether it’s necessary to cut off the bottom part of the Brussels (when you buy them already broken off the stem). Usually we do cut them off, but this time we simplified and they tasted fine. Do you cut the bottoms off?

Asian Brussels Sprouts

Asian Brussels Sprouts

On a completely different note, the recipe name was inspired by A Christmas Story.

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Bo Ling Brussels Sprouts
from the kitchen of Sarah Zero

  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 6 dried tien tsin peppers (china chili peppers), finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • juice of half a lime (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Evenly coat a baking sheet with olive and sesame oils. Sprinkle the garlic and place the Brussels cut-side down in one layer across the pan. Put the chopped peppers in one spot on the pan. Spritz the tops of the Brussels with oil and bake for 15–20 minutes, until tops of brussels are slightly blackened. Remove from oven and mix thoroughly, discarding some of the chili peppers if you prefer a less spicy dish. Squeeze lime juice over the top if desired. Enjoy!