Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Project: Save the Kales!

The Patient: A large bunch of kale
Status: Critical
Last Ditch Effort: Soup

It was a dark and stormy night .... Just kidding. It was a lovely morning, just before noon. I had my 2 year-old's lunch ready to go, but had nothing for myself. I opened the veggie drawer in the fridge and - eeeeek! That kale was on its last legs. Wilted, shriveled, looking like something that I might not feel too bad throwing out. Except I still saw a little glimmer of hope there, in the form of soup. But what kind?

I rummaged around for something else to go in the soup. Aha! A package of tofu that was 3 days away from hitting its expiration date. This was shaping up into an Asian sort of soup. I found a bottle of Korean soup base in the pantry (a gift from my mother-in-law, which I hadn't tried, so I knew not what it wrought.) This would work. It just needed one more thing, something magical, but I didn't know what it was.

I opened the freezer, fingers crossed for some hidden yummy I'd forgotten about. I opened a plastic grocery bag to find ... dumplings! Hooray! They were Korean mandu (gyoza, in Japanese) and I remembered my mother-in-law giving them to me a month ago. They were filled with ground pork, green onion and ginger - simple, and the perfect companion to my kale and tofu.

This soup was so easy and so tasty! It was also packed full of vitamins (kale is beyond good for you) and protein. The variations on this theme are endless: replace the Korean soup base with miso paste for a Japanese flavor, or switch out the gyoza for frozen ravioli or tortellini and use chicken broth for an Italian soup. Either way, you're eating kale - and that has to be good!

Korean Kale Soup

  • 1 bunch kale (yours doesn't have to be on death's door like mine was - fresh is fine!)
  • 1 package firm tofu (19 oz. or 10 oz., whatever you have - I used the big size)
  • 1/2 cup Korean soup base (see note)
  • 6 - 8 mandu / gyoza, or more, depending on the size, any flavor (Trader Joe's makes pretty good frozen ones, if you don't have an Asian grocery store, or mother-in-law, nearby)
  • a sprinkle of furikake for garnish

  1. Wash the kale, and remove the tough stems. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat a little oil (I used sesame oil) in a large pot. When hot, add the kale and saute for a few minutes. Add the tofu and saute for another few minutes.
  3. Add approximately 4 cups of water and the liquid soup base. Cover the pot and let cook for 4 minutes at high heat.
  4. Add the mandu, and make sure not too much of your broth has evaporated (add more if you like; I prefer mine a little more stew-y) and put the lid back on. Let cook about 10 minutes, until the mandu are cooked, but not falling apart.
  5. Ladle into a bowl, sprinkle with furikake, and enjoy your kale!

(Note: I would tell you what kind of soup base it is, but it's all in Korean. Like, everything except the ingredients and the words "Korean Soup Base". It seems to consist of soy sauce, sugar, and "seafood extracts", whatever that is. I bet, if you were adventurous, you could recreate the flavor using fish sauce (nam pla), some soy sauce and some sugar.)


  1. inspirational! I always forget about soup making in the summer, but this is perfect.

  2. Thanks Susanne! It's amazing what can be hiding in your freezer, just waiting to make a meal!