Friday, December 23, 2011

Kale, Bean, & Sweet Potato Soup with Rosemary-Cheese Biscuits

Anyone else all sugared out from holiday sweets?  I am.  However, I can't...stop...eating...them!  Something healthy was in order.  Enter a favorite soup of mine that fits the bill - Kale, Bean & Sweet Potato Soup.  It's veggie-loaded and freezes well for "emergency lunches."

Don't you feel less sugar-blasted already?

For this soup, I wanted a tasty, carb-y accompaniment.  I had been buying this fantastic rosemary bread from a local bakery, so I knew the flavor profile I had in mind.  However, since I'm not quite ready to be nursing a needy starter (two furry, needy kitties are quite enough, thanks), I needed another option - biscuits!  I'm an avid Cook's Country reader, so I just tweaked their recipe by adding some rosemary and a local favorite cheese - Beecher's.

I also decided to try using lard for the first time, and I must say that the results lived up to my expectations - amazing!   I don't have any biscuit cutters (yet), so I thought I'd make it fun by using some flower and heart shaped cookie cutters.  Who says biscuits always have to be round??

I would ask the boyfriend what he thinks of the final result, but he's too busy noshing on the biscuits to tell me.

Kale, Bean, & Sweet Potato Soup
(adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
~ 6 one and half cup servings

1 head of garlic
Olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, rinsed, white and light green parts chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped (I cut out the woody center)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 bunch of kale (I used half green, half purple in this batch)
1 can white beans, drained
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Pull off almost all of outer skin of garlic (leaving some to hold the cloves together), and cut of top so all of cloves are exposed.  Drizzle couple of teaspoons of olive oil over it so it soaks into the garlic.  Wrap in aluminum foil and cook until soft and darkened (about 40 minutes).  Remove garlic from oven, let cool, and squeeze out roasted cloves.

Place large pot over medium heat (I use my big soup pot, but smaller ones would do).  Add olive oil and heat.  Add rosemary, leeks and onion and cook until translucent.  Add roasted garlic, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, and celery, stirring until potato pieces begin to soften.

Add kale and cook until it begins to wilt.  Add chicken broth and cook until vegetables are tender.  Add beans, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until heated through.  Ladle out into bowls and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Rosemary and Cheese Biscuits
(adapted from Cook's Country)
~12 biscuits

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unstalted butter
4 Tbsp lard (or shortening)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced (I may add a bit more next time)
1/2 cup grated Beecher's (or cheddar, or other cheese of choice)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk OR substitute (Stir 1 Tbsp + 3/4 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar into 1 1/4 cups milk. Let stand at room temp for 10 minutes until thickened)

Cut butter and lard into 1/2 inch pieces and refrigerate until chilled.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut in chilled butter and lard with pastry cutter until the mixture is coarse and butter is the size of small peas.  Stir in minced rosemary and grated cheese.

Stir in buttermilk until just combined.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly, 8 - 10 times, to form a smooth cohesive ball.  Cover with plastic wrap (or wax paper or parchment paper) and roll to 3/4 inch thick.  Using biscuit (or cookie) cutter dipped in flour, cut out shapes and arrange upside down on prepared baking sheet.  Gently gather scraps and re-roll to 3/4 inch thick to cut remaining biscuits and place on baking sheet.

Bake until biscuits begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Baking until golden brown, 10 - 12 minutes more.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes.


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