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I’ve been absolutely exhausted the whole week and my dearest was sweet enough to make my favorite thing for dinner – a big pot of soup. And it was even better the next day. I love eating leftover soup all week (although we gobbled this up in 2 days!).

Split Pea & Kale Soup
via rawdemption

3 medium carrots diced
1 small onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
2 small potatoes diced
2 cloves garlic
4-5 large curly kale leaves chopped
1 1/2 cups dried green split peas
1 tsp salt
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

Prepare the split peas by sorting out any odd bits or discoloured peas and rinse until the water runs clear. Add them to a large pot and generously cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for 30-45 minutes until tender. Drain.
While the peas are cooking prepare the vegetables and heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and soften for around 10mins on medium heat. Add the water, salt, pepper, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Once the peas are cooked and drained add to the soup.
Cook for around another 30 mins. Use a ladle or large spoon to skim off any scum that has boiled to the surface. A few minutes before serving add the chopped kale. Enjoy!

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Phew! This week almost has me beat. I knew after yesterday that I wasn’t going to be up for much cooking tonight, so I did a little prep for the slow cooker last night just before bed and came home to the most amazing smell – food. I walked in, pulled the lid off the slow cooker, and my whole day just melted away. I am definitely one of those people that eats for comfort! The original recipe did not include kale, but I was craving leafy greens today, so I sauteed a bit when I got home and tossed it in the stew at the end. I’m betting you could throw it in cooker in the morning with the rest though, and have it come out just as tasty!

Sausage, Bean & Kale Stew
adapted from myrecipes.com

1 pound kielbasa, sliced
1/2 cup minced shallots
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dried white beans, rinsed and sorted
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, cut into large pieces
1 cup of water
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

In the slow cooker, add the kielbasa, shallots, garlic, beans, water, wine, chicken stock, thyme, pepper & celery seeds. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours, until beans are tender. Just before the 8 hours are up, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the kale until just soft, about 5 minutes. Stir the kale into the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients and serve.

As it’s still absolutely freezing outside, I’m still on my stew kick. And now that I know that mushrooms are packed with vitamin D, I’ll be adding them to even more meals than usual (especially during these bleak Seattle winter months). My main goal for soups is to get the most flavor in the shortest amount of time, since I’m usually not able to get things started until after I get home from work on weeknights, so I pack all the flavorful ingredients I have in. I bet this would be amazing in a slow cooker though, and I may have to try that next. The recipe below is a mixture of a number soup recipes from my books and favorites sites, with a few more of my favorite ingredients added (beer! kale!). If I did it again, I think I’d add carrots for a little more color, and maybe some shiitake or porcini mushrooms for a little different flavor.
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Mushroom Barley Stew with Kale

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium to large yellow onion, diced
2 leeks, ends and green removed, sliced into 1/2 inch disks and halved again
4 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 cup dry pearled barley
2 teaspoons dry thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef broth
4 cups of mushroom broth (or all 8 cups mushroom broth, if you’d like it vegetarian)
1 bottle of beer (I used the Redhook Winterhook, and would definitely recommend a dark beer)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped

Wipe out a large pot to dry it, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, and celery; saute for 15 minutes, until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, barley, stock, beer, tomato paste, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the barley is tender.
Stir in the sherry vinegar, add the kale and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.