Kale! Kale! The gang’s all here!

Kale has kept the Irish (and other northern folk) alive for over a millennia, even before cabbage (at least according to Donnchadh Ó Corráin while he still breathed), but here in the States it’s often used as an an ornamental, and eating it became a fad

Early spring red kale, just about to bolt.

Using kale as an ornamental is like using a Maserati to commute in Manhattan. I mean, yeah, but why would you?

I suspect part of the problem is not knowing when to eat kale–late summer kale can be as tough and bitter as a sea salt’s boots. Best time to eat it is after a hard frost, and it only gets better as the winter melts into spring.

You can use it in colcannon (an Irish dish with its own song), but I love it in a very local clam dish.

NCM clam and kale soup

  • Two handfuls of fresh dug clams
  • Three fistfuls of fresh cut kale
  • A few sprigs of rosemary cut off the bush by the driveway
  • A small onion
  • Just enough olive oil
  • Big dab of butter
  • A glass (or two) of white wine
  • A cup of half and half cream

Prep the clams: 

  • Scrub the clams.
  • Bring clam pot water (about 3/4″ deep) to boiling
  • Put clams in until opened.
  • Scoop out the clams, chop up the meat, save the juice, and hold in bowl until all clams cooked.
  • Once all clams cooked, dump chopped clams and juice back into the clam water and let simmer.

Everything else:

  • Pour just enough olive oil into iron skillet to coat bottom.
  • Toss in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and cook until leaves flatten in oil, then remove the sprigs
  • Toss in chopped onion, and let simmer until onions start to sweeten just so
  • Pour in wine, and let simmer for 5 minutes
  • Rip up kale and toss into above in several handfuls–each handful should shrink into manageable size before tossing in the next.
  • Toss in dab of butter, simmer until melted

Put it together:

  • Pour the kale broth into the clam broth
  • Simmer a few minutes, long enough so that the kale and clams get acquainted
  • Toss in cup of half and half, turn off flame, and let set for 5 minutes.

Serve with bread and Guinness.