The way I remember it, which oft differs from real history, I was in the Girl Scouts for all of one minute. I know I wanted to get in on the cookie action and that was about it (to this day, I can house an entire box of Samoas in one sitting). I don’t remember much about the meetings, or even the cookie selling, anymore. However, I do remember a little song we had to sing quite often – much to my chagrin. I believe it was called, “The Make New Friends Song”. I only remember the first line, but as I write this I can’t keep from humming along… “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold."
There really is nothing more important to me than my friends. And, interestingly, this has been a very significant summer for me with regards to more than a few of my friendships. I have made a number of new friends – people that I feel will be around for a long time. I have also reconnected with some very important people from my past I almost thought I’d lost.
In a few weeks fall will officially be upon us - a period that recalls memories of back-to-school-times.
Back then school was, really, the only way we made new friends and kept up with the old, beyond high school, and perhaps into college. These are the friends that stay with us, in one form or another, for the rest of our lives. These are the friends that become family. Like it or not. Warts and all.
If I haven’t mentioned it previously, I am a soup person. I am just absolutely gonzo for soup. I love to make them at home and I also love to see how inspired a restaurant is by their soup du jour. And, oh man, I love the garnish on a soup. It’s like putting the star on the tippy top of the Christmas tree. And fall just makes me get that much more hog-wild for soups. Oh, I do miss the thrill of back to school shopping, with it’s Trapper Keepers, spiral notebooks, pens with colorful inks, protractors, compasses, and, of course, new clothes. But I get a similar thrill when I start to plot my shopping for the new, fall produce: ingredients for a heartier, snugglier autumnal cuisine. Let’s just say, I get souper geeked to get my soup on. Forgive me for that.
The soup here is a beautiful one, and an adaptation of a recipe that my good friend Chris, made for me last fall. It is a recipe that an old college friend - a wise bunny who very recently popped up out of nowhere – requested I share. So I prepared this just yesterday to be able to do exactly that.
I might add that I shared the tangible result with my ultra-new friend, and also, my tomato trafficker, whom I have only just met this summer.
Excuse me, there’s a poetry in my soup.
I don’t know about anyone being silver or gold. Perhaps they’re all platinum. What I do know is I’m thankful for all of my friends: old, new, forgotten (for now), remembered, as yet undiscovered, loved and even not so loved (by me). I hope to make them soup. Or just share the recipes. Hey, that’s what friends are for.
Most soups are deceptively simple to prepare and this one is no different. Just take care not to overcook the kale as you want to keep the integrity of the color in order to maintain the vivid green. Look how beautiful this soup is in each stage of preparation...
For the vegetarians in the house, simply substitute the bacon with butter, and the chicken stock with vegetable stock. But make sure to add a little extra salt, to compensate.
This dish would pair beautifully with a very light Pinot Noir, perhaps the La Crema, Sonoma Coast ’07, and a few chunks of a rustic loaf.
Pureed Kale & White Bean Soup
1 strip of bacon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, coursely chopped
2 1/2 cups, loosely packed kale kale leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
a small sprig of rosemary
3 cups (approximately 2 cans) of cannellini beans
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 3/4 cups water
4 large basil leaves, chiffonaded
4 large basil leaves, chiffonaded
2 Tablespoon finishing oil
Salt and pepper
Add chopped kale and stir for a minute or two until wilted.
At this point, add the drained beans and stir for a few seconds. Then add the stock and water and let cook until the soup thickens to a nice consistency.
Let cool enough to transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.
Transfer back to pot and reheat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Top with basil, drizzle with a finishing oil and serve.