Monday, December 16, 2013

Vegan Couvres: Portuguese Kale Soup with Fresh Beans

Closeup of Soup
Portuguese Kale Soup with a Difference (Soyrizo)

Recipe by Robin

Hot soup is the perfect cold weather food, warming up both body and spirit as we slide towards the shortest day of the year. With plenty of winter kale and potatoes around, I was inspired by a recipe for couvres, a type of Portuguese kale soup, from the 1972 community cookbook Cooking and Traveling the Cape Cod Way. Instead of the standard Portuguese sausage chourizo, I chose to use vegan Soyrizo, which acts quite differently than sausage in soup.  Luckily, this difference helps reduce the cooking time from almost 3 hours to less than 1. Using fresh cannellini beans (or precooked or canned ones) also helps trim the time.

Basket with Kale, Potatoes, Beans, Soyrizo, and Onion
Five Easy Ingredients
Soyrizo, which is largely soy protein, is unlike sausage in texture. It is quite squishy and will fall apart unless pre-fried before being used. Technically, this heating denatures the protein so that the “sausage” holds together. After cooking it’s still too fragile to boil in soup for very long. Yet the soup would not be flavorful without a bit of boiled Soyrizo, so after frying it up I simmered half in the soup for only 5 minutes, and served the rest as soup topping. Unlike sausage, you don’t want to just throw Soyrizo into the pot to cook with the other soup ingredients.

Pot of Soup
Add only Half the Soyrizo to the Pot
Although I wrote this recipe for fresh Farmers’ Market cannellini beans that I froze last September, you can substitute canned or dried beans. If using canned beans, drain and add them along with the Soyrizo at the end and cook only till warmed through, about 5 – 7 minutes. Soaked dried beans need a total cooking time of about 1¼ hours, and this soup cooks about 35 minutes, so you’ll need to precook soaked beans for about 40 minutes. Either soak the beans overnight or “speed soak” by bringing them to a boil for 5 minutes, covering and letting sit for one hour, then draining and cooking.

Soyrizo after frying
Pan-fry the Soyrizo First
Use a very large bunch of any kind of kale or two small bunches of different kales. I used Red Russian and Lacinato, which added variety of texture to the soup. 

Preparing the Soyrizo is the most difficult step in this soup, and also the first step. Don’t be discouraged. Think of the calories that you’re saving, and how much vegan friends and family will appreciate your efforts. Breathe deeply (simmering soup smells delish) and enjoy this holiday season.

Bowl of Vegan Portuguese Soup
Warming Food for (Almost) Winter
Vegan Couvres: Portuguese Kale Soup
serves ~10

12 oz. Soyrizo soy “sausage”
1 - 2 tbsp. sunflower oil
1¼ cup chopped onion (one medium)
1 cup fresh cannellini beans
1¼ lbs. yellow potatoes
~1¼ lb. kale (1-2 bunches)
12 cups broth or half-strength bouillon
2 bay leaves

Scrub potatoes and chop into medium pieces. You will have about 3½ - 4 cups. Strip kale leaves from heavy stems. Tear or chop into bite-sized pieces. You can use up to 10 moderately packed cups of kale.

Heat an electric skillet, to 400 degrees F (or regular skillet on medium high). Add 1 – 1½ tablespoons sunflower oil and heat. Remove Soyrizo from casing and add to skillet, cooking per instructions, flipping with spatula and lowering heat as necessary. In about 10 minutes, Soyriso will be dried, evenly cooked, and look (sort of) like crumbled sausage.

Remove Soyriso from skillet and set aside. Add chopped onions to pan and cook, scraping up bits of Soyriso. Add more oil if needed. Sauté until onions are golden brown on edges and colored with the red Soyriso, about 7 minutes.

Place cooked onions, fresh beans, and chopped potatoes into a 4 – 5 quart soup pot. Add broth and bay leaves. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Test the beans for doneness. If soft but not done, add kale and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or other concentrated broth seasoning. Cover and simmer 15 more minutes.

Divide the cooked Soyriso in half. Add half to soup pot, stir, and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot, topped with remaining cooked Soyrizo.

Fried onion, fresh cannellini beans, and potatoes in bottom of pot
Wintery White Ingredients

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