pretzel bites.

pretzel bites.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

on swimming, seltzer, and soup.

i used to bike to work. every day. well, not every day. but every day that the temperature was above 30 or below 95 degrees when i woke up in the morning. i rode gleefully, peacefully, meditationally, and safely through the beautiful brownstone streets and over the glorious brooklyn bridge, past the statue of liberty, and into lower manhattan. roughly four miles there and four miles home. it was the most wonderful way to start and end my work day, and i didn't even have to worry about exercising in my free time. my bike even had a basket. it still does, actually. only, i'm not allowed to ride it anymore because there's a chance i'll fall off and hurt myself, which i'm not allowed to do now because i'm pregnant. (whereas falling off and hurting myself before i was pregnant would have been perfectly okay?) the nurse who delivered this disappointing news suggested i ride a stationary bike. it's not her fault. she doesn't know me. so she doesn't know that the likelihood i'd fall off a stationary bike is about 1000 times greater than the likelihood i'd fall off my road bike. but it's okay, because i started swimming. and i love swimming, which is soothing and wonderful in its own way, and i'm told i will be able to do it throughout my pregnancy because apparently the risk of asphyxiating on chlorinated water is smaller than the risk of falling off my bike. the only problem is the timing. the pool i go to is only open in the evening, which means that monday through wednesday i can't get there until about 6:45, which means that i don't get home until about 8:00, which means that by the time i'm ready to get dinner started it's 8:30. which, for me, is late to get dinner started. thursday is a bit better because all of that is pushed up an hour, and starting dinner at 7:30 seems a lot more reasonable.




especially when i have this.



the single greatest thing that has ever happened to my kitchen.



the second greatest thing that has ever happened to my kitchen is my seltzer maker. joey gave it to us as a wedding gift and it makes me happy every single day because it looks like a penguin and magically turns tap water into bubbly water. and i can control the bubbles. sparkling water just doesn't cut it. i need gigantic, spastic, loud bubbles that i can hear from the next room.

 my love affair with seltzer began when i finally stopped pretending that it was okay for me to replace my daily water intake with diet coke. (a fluid is a fluid?) what i missed more than the saccharine sweet, syrupy goodness of the diet coke was the bubbles. until i discovered seltzer. and now i'm a total convert. (seltzer=water!) 

but! but! but! i can't make soup in my seltzer maker.

and i can in my beautiful, shiny, heavy, red le creuset dutch oven. it was also a wedding gift. and it makes me feel very grown up and serious. and it also soothes me through the long winter because i can eat homemade soup as much as i please. which is often. which i ate on thursday evening when i got home from swimming.

i made this incredibly easy, delicious, comforting soup.

ingredients for the soup:
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
2 tbs olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth*
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cannellini beans
4 cups roughly torn kale
salt, pepper, garlic salt, and celery salt
2 cups bread cubes**
*you can use more or less depending on how much liquid you like in your soup.
**i used not-so-good bread from the grocery store which i just cut up into cubes about 1 inch each

to make the soup:
1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil, then generously sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic salt over them. mix it all together with your hands and stick it in the oven for about 12 minutes. you should check on them after about 6 minutes to see how they're doing and give the baking sheet a little shake. you want the croutons to be hard and nicely browned. but not burned.
2. drizzle the remaining 1 tbs olive oil in your soup pot, which is a large le creuset if you're lucky like i am. dice the garlic and onion and add them to the pot, along with about a teaspoon of salt and pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon celery salt. you can omit the celery salt if you're crazy and you don't like it. let them garlic and onion cook down over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
3. add the can of diced tomatoes, including the liquid, 2 cups of the vegetable broth, and the cannellini beans, stir it all together and cook uncovered on high while you prepare the kale.

4. prepare the kale. remove the thick stems and tear the leaves into 2 or 3 inch pieces. when they kale is ready to go, dump it into the pot, add the remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth (more or less to taste), stir it in so the kale is submerged, cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes, or until the kale is cooked down. a lot.
5. scoop it into a bowl and throw some of those delicious garlic croutons on top.


the different flavors and textures are wonderful together and they'll make you feel warm and happy inside, even if you don't have a le creuset. or a seltzer maker.


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