Because, in a nutshell, it is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale also contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties and it is said to help the body in a natural detocification process.
Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss. Along with other brassica vegetables (i.e. cabbage), kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells, and it is also a good source of carotenoids <source: Wikipedia>.
Those are just some of kale’s health benefits, but what about the flavour and texture? We all know how dreadful spinach can taste…
There is a definite nuttiness to the leaves which remain meaty when steamed, but turn beautifully crisp when stir fired in butter or good quality oil. And that’s exactly how I chose to cook the leaves for the soup; because it would add a different texture to the soup balancing the softness of cabbage and beans already in the soup.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but I’m impartial to serving many a soups with a hunk of good sourdough or rye, and this soup is no different. However, instead of a fresh hunk, I chose to turn my dark rye sourdough into croutons. It always makes soup so much more fun!
- ¼ medium green cabbage, shredded
- 1 leek, white part only, sliced
- 4-5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 (440g) can butter beans, drained
- 4 whole kale leaves
- 2 fresh bay leaves // or 4 dried
- 4 tsp cooking oil // or butter
- 4 slices (dark rye) sourdough, cut into 1cm squares
- 1 tbsp cooking oil // or butter
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
- Add shredded cabbage and leeks. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage has wilted and reduced volume by half.
- Add stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the cabbage has softened.
- Add canned beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Wash leaves and stems under cold running water, shake off excess water. Chop across the leaves into 1cm wide ribbons.
- Heat 2 teaspoons of cooking oil in a medium frypan over medium heat. Add kale and cook, stirring, until wilted and becoming crisp.
- Turn off the heat and leave until serving.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in another fry pan over medium high heat.
- Add bread squares and cook, stirring, until the croutons are lightly browned and crisp.
- Divide soup between serving bowls.
- Top with crispy kale and serve croutons on the side. Pop a few croutons into the soup at a time so that they can retain their crunch in every bite.