This past week, Mark and his grandparents spent a pleasant afternoon touring a local hospital that, on its website, touts itself as a “unique and tranquil healing environment.” Apparently, so much so that it attracted perfectly healthy tourists like them who just wanted to check the place out.
During their visit, Mark and his grandparents had lunch in a cafeteria where all the food was sodium-free. He and his grandmother tried the potato and kale soup, which Mark said tasted like someone just haphazardly threw some kale and potatoes into some boiling water.
Ever the mischievous pranksters, Mark and his grandmother decided to ask for the recipe for the soup. Partly out of curiosity about what the chef would say (if there was indeed a recipe) and partly out of what I can only assume is sadistic vengeance, they waited for nearly fifteen minutes while the poor counter person went into the kitchen to ask the chef what was in the soup.
The person finally emerged and said it was kale, potatoes, olive oil and pepper. Mark said he couldn’t taste either of the latter ingredients, which probably would’ve gone a long way in making the soup taste like… something.
After Mark told me that story, I decided to pose a challenge. We all know that salt makes things taste good, but maybe we’ve been using it as a crutch all these years. I wanted to see if we could make our own potato kale soup without salt that was flavorful as well as healthful. It seemed like an interesting challenge.
It’s hard to imagine soup without salt and I had a phobia of kale after a traumatic incident years ago when I fed my pet rabbit too much kale and he had to go to the emergency room because of a bad case of gas and indigestion. But it was time to overcome my fear and find out if it is indeed possible to make a sodium-free soup that doesn’t taste like hospital cafeteria food.
The deadline was the end of this week. Here is my submission:
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a yellow onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
5 thin slices of fresh ginger
4 yellow potatoes (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1 large bunch of green kale (torn into pieces without the stems)
4 fresh Thai chilies
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger and sautee until the onions get soft and translucent. Fill the pot 3/4 full with cool water and add the oxtails. Simmer for about half an hour, add potatoes. Continue simmering for another half an hour and add kale and chilies. The kale turns a stunning emerald when it is bathed in the steamy soup.
When the potatoes are soft, the soup is ready to eat. Add some freshly ground black pepper and serve.