Soup with kale, a Dutch transplant in France
In general, I am not a big fan of fusion cooking and prefer traditional originals.
But what if you do not have all the ingredients or circumstances? Perhaps, I have to review my opinion and appreciate fusion as an attempt to combine the best, or at least the most recognizable, elements of various traditions or cultures into a new dish.
When we recently arrived back from a short stay in our home country of the Netherlands, I was tempted to reproduce some typical Dutch seasonal classics while I had been unable to take the fresh ingredients with me back into France due to a short two-night stay in Paris along the journey.
When we went to our usual Monday farmer’s market here in Mirepoix, I found fresh kale and scarole and just had to take it home. Kale, chou frisé here, is called boerenkool in Dutch that translates as farmer’s cabbage. It is mainly used to feed cattle, but the Dutch eat it as a healthy and cheap vegetable in winter. Kale is not cheap anymore in urban centres like Paris due to a health rage in the United States that may have been inspired by people of Dutch descent there.
In the Netherlands you would mince the kale, cook it and mix it with cooked potatoes, some butter and lard, and serve with a smoked sausage.
French smoked sausages as Montbéliard and saucisse fumée savoyarde have a completely different taste, and price, than a Dutch smoked pork sausage. Also, I wanted to avoid the fat and grease from the butter and lard to have something more “light”.
I turned it into a soup, a sort of Portuguese caldo verde.
First, I made a stock of chicken wings, onion, leek, carrot, celeriac, turnip and a celery stick. I added some laurel, thyme, mace and pepper and a handful of coarse salt in four litres of water. I only used about a third of the stock later, keeping the rest refrigerated.
I took the kale leaves from the stems and after washing and drying put it through a chopper blender.
I cut up another celeriac bulb, leek and carrots and cooked them in the stock for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes I added four pealed and quartered potatoes.
I sliced up some local country ham and grated some old Dutch cheese.
After 30 minutes, I put the kale in the stock and let it cook for just five minutes. I added the ham and cheese, stirred, checked for salt and pepper and served.
It was good, nourishing and relatively lean.