Tonight I went to my garden. It was dark. The night falls early here, these days. Not even a scant cup of blue left in the sky, just the passing lights of cars.
So there I was, gathering kale by the fistfuls, approximating which leaves were the right ones to pick. I should have come here in the daylight, I thought, I should have stopped in early, before work. But there is a furtive pleasure in walking garden paths at night, talking to the plants. A few beets were pulled, a leek. What to do with this bed of leeks? I thought of sweet potato vichyssoise, such an ornamented name for such a simple soup. I wondered if one could pickle leeks. I wondered what I would do with pickled leeks. Would they go with the salads I generally eat? Could I make a sandwich with pickled leeks?
Pickles were my first favorite food. I veered toward the briny at an early age, my desire for salt – saltwater, the crunch of a dill pickle, the smattering of salt in soup – starting early, never slaked.
So, pickled leeks seemed about right. But I was ready to go home, with my one leek as a test leek for the pickling. The rest will wait for the right time.
The kale was necessary for my soup, which I wanted to be a thick, rich, beefy soup without the beef.
To make this soup, I cooked cranberry beans till they became tender and sweet. I sauteed mushrooms in olive oil, with minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary. I ribboned the kale, and opened the bottle of cheap red wine. To the beans I added the kale and a nice dose of red wine, salt and red wine vinegar. To the mushrooms, a touch of shoyu. To the soup, the mushrooms. Potatoes and beets, diced up, to the whole pot. Then the tomato paste, for good measure. Is that all? It boils up like a frenzy, then I put it to a thoughtful simmer.
That’s all. It will cook. I will let it age a day, then eat a bowl for lunch, and for dinner, and again, again, till my spoon rings the bottom of the pot.