Soup easy enough for a child to master

Julie Falsetti, For The York Dispatch

I might forget your name and I might forget your face, but if you’ve cooked something for me, it will stay in my mind forever.

Fourteen years ago, I had dinner at a friend’s house. The first course was a soup cooked by the family’s 9-year-old son. They mentioned that the recipe came from a cookbook for children. After one spoonful, I pronounced it delicious.

I went home and tried to re-create the soup on my own. I knew the basic ingredients, so reconstructing it wasn’t hard. One whimsical addition I made was alphabet noodles. It brought me back to my childhood, when I would fish the letters out of soup to spell out my name.

Skip ahead to the present. With a little internet searching, I found the original recipe.

It came from “Blue Moon Soup: A Family Cookbook” by Gary Goss. The cookbook features “from scratch” soup recipes arranged according to the seasons.

The recipes are sophisticated enough for an adult palate, but with the quantity of seasonings toned down to appeal to children. Although Full Moon Soup is listed in the winter section, it is a good recipe to prepare in fall because the local markets are loaded with fresh kale.

Because the recipe is basically a Portuguese kale soup, it calls for linguica sausage, an ingredient I think you would be hard-pressed to find in York County. I’m not a fan of sausage in my soups, so I increased the quantity of vegetables and seasonings instead.

As far as the kale goes, two types are readily available commercially: curly kale and lacinato or dinosaur kale. If you are using curly kale, strip the leaves off the fibrous stems before chopping. Whatever variety you use, check for freshness, as old kale can be bitter and tough.

Full Moon Soup

1/2 cup kidney beans soaked in 3 cups water for several hours or overnight

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 green pepper, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

1 stalk celery, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

2 carrots, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups chopped kale

1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon salt or to taste

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup alphabet noodles

Drain the beans and cover with 2 cups fresh water. Cook the beans until tender. Set aside.

While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the onions and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and their cooking liquid, remaining vegetables, tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and 6 cups water. Except: If you are using fresh herbs, add them in the last 10 minutes of the cooking process.

Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add the alphabet noodles and cook for 8 minutes more. Taste for salt.

Serve topped with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.