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Monday Meals: Hearty Vegan Kale and Suasage Soup

We’re thinking of adding Diana (“D”) on as a full-time writer to our blog since her Monday Meals are SO yummy . . . and healthy to boot!  (Plus she’s quite the little thrift-fashionista and I promise once I get back to Portland I’ll prove it to you guys by forcing asking her nicely to be featured one week).

delicious, hearty, and vegan!

Here’s something quick and hearty, an easy solution when I feel like a home-made lunch but don’t want to spend more than 15 minutes. It’s one of my favorite things to do with kale, too. It was originally adapted from some food network recipe (www.foodtv.com) but it’s been modified enough at this point that I can’t remember which one it was.

Hearty Vegan Kale and Sausage Soup


1/4 onion, finely chopped or sliced
1 veggie sausage (something spicy is best, I recommend Tofurky Italian sausage. I suppose you could do real sausage if you’re a meat-eater)
a few tablespoons oil
2-3 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your desired spice level)
1-2 tablespoons salt (less if you can stand to be that healthy like Ashley!)
1/2 bag or ~4 cups uncooked kale
1 can white/cannelini beans
3 cups vegetable stock

  • Sautee the onion and the sausage in a large saucepan at medium heat in a few tablespoons of oil until the onions are well carmelized and the veggie sausage is good and brown (this helps the texture).

you want well carmelized onions and browned sausage to start

  • Add in the spices and salt and toss the onion/sausage mix, then add in the kale and mix well.
  •  Cover and sautee at medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale has turned bright green and wilted/softened so that it is about half its original volume.

wilted kale ready to become soup!

  • Next, pour half of the contents of a can of white beans into the pot, then mash the other half in the can to make a bean paste. Add this paste to the pot as well – this will make the broth thick and hearty!
  • Then add 3 cups of vegetable stock, plus 1-2 cups of water, stir and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Bring the pot to a simmer and allow to cook for at least 10 minutes (longer would make the kale even softer, but I can never wait that long to dig in!). Serve hot, ideally with crusty bread for dipping.

Makes 4-6 servings. I don’t have tips for freezing this one because even these big batches get eaten within 2 days in this house!



Monday Meals: Southern Fried Chicken

Dee's fried chicken and carrot slices

This weekend we made a true US comfort food (we’re so excited to head to Hong Kong this week and get some good old American food – fingers crossed!).  I used the recipe from Baker Bettie’s website.  I love her photos, and all the recipes I’ve tried so far have been great!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Thomas Keller


  • Two 2 1/2 to 3 pound chickens cut into 10 pieces
  • Chicken brine (see below)
  • Canola or Peanut Oil
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly group black pepper
    1. Cut each chicken into 10 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast quarters, and 2 wings.  Pour the brine into the container large enough to hold the chicken pieces, add the chicken and refrigerate for no longer than 12 hours. (To be honest, I boil my chicken pieces right before cooking in a similar brine recipe to below to make sure they are thoroughly cooked but it still keeps the chicken tender).
    2. Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine) and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Let rest at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, or until it come to room temperature.
    3. Fill the pot with at least 2 inches of oil and heat to 320 degrees F.  Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.  Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
    4. Meanwhile, combine all the coating ingredients in a large bowl (flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, kosher salt, and pepper). Transfer half the coating to a second bowl (or just keep it all in one bowl).  Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Set up a dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl of coating, the bowl of buttermilk (we didn’t have butter milk but beaten eggs with a little plain milk works great too!), the second bowl of coating, and the parchment-lined baking sheet.
    5. Make sure to set up two flour bowls on the kitchen floor or a low counter for your helper to dip things into as well (or just play with the flour and transfer from bowl to bowl). It’s a mess but Dee LOVES it so I think it’s worth the trouble.

      Dee working with her own flour bowls - what a mess!

    6. Just before frying, dip the dark meat pieces into the first bowl of coating, then into the buttermilk, allowing the excess to run back into the bowl; then dip into the second bowl of coating, and rest on the parchment. (The double coating is the key to get a really good breading! – I never knew this before yay knowledge!)

      Dip in the flour, then egg/buttermilk, then a second time in the flour. I use a spoon to help with coating the pieces in flour

    7. Carefully (more carefully than me) lower the pieces into the hot oil.  Fry for 11 to 12 minutes turning over half-way through, until the chicken is a deep golden brown, cooked through, and very crisp.  Allow to drain on a cooling rack, skin side up to let the fat drain off.

      Fry in the oil.

    8. Turn up the heat to 340 degrees F to cook the white meat.  Repeat the coating and frying process for the white meat.  Note that the white meat will cook faster.  Approximately 7 minutes for the breasts and 6 minutes for the wings.

My first piece didn’t cook at all which is why I just went to boiling all the pieces before hand and then frying only a couple minutes after that.  Can’t have Deester eating uncooked chicken – gross!   Plus, I boiled up some sliced carrots in the water after the chicken was done boiling.  This gave the carrots such a good taste and Dee loved them.

Chicken Brine
(I just use the ingredients and proportions for this recipe depending on how many pieces of chicken I’m making for our family we do about 1/5th)
  • 5 lemons, halved
  • 24 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  • 1 head garlic, halved through the equator
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt
  • 2 gallons water
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt.  Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before using.  The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. I (like I said before, instead of the days in the fridge I boil the chicken in the broth to make sure it’s completely cooked by the oil step).

Tah-dah! Piles of American nostalgia!

Don’t forget to clean up your (now floury-dust-covered little helper).

This is Dee's newest "cheese" now that she's understanding words!

I know that it must look like we’re the most unhealthy people eating all this fried food but I promise the rest of the times it’s rice and vegetables so we like to throw in some good ol’ American fatty food when we can :)


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