I think that sports are awesome for kids. They’re fun! The kids get exercise, make new friends, learn about competition and trying your best, and lots of other life lessons which I am constantly repeating to my children to the point of annoyance. “It’s not over ’til it’s over!” “Today is a new day!” Love those.
Mr. Picky is 10 years old and he will basically play as many sports as his schedule and we will allow. I can’t possibly let him participate in everything that strikes his fancy because then I would truly have no life and he would be exhausted. He plays soccer all year plus basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and tennis in the summer. But can I just vent for one second? Soccer, basketball, tennis — all good. Normal practice schedule. Short games. Love it. 10-year-old baseball? T-O-R-T-U-R-E.
Forget about the fact that I think baseball is dreadfully boring. I could watch any of my kids blow dirt and I would enjoy cheering them on. But there’s not a lot of action in baseball and we’re committed to two 2-hour games a week plus a 2 1/2 hour practice on Saturdays. Ugh. And, those Thursday night games on metal bleachers and wind blowing from the West. I am always chilled to the bone when I get home on Thursday nights. That’s why I bribed Mr. Picky not to play baseball this year. I offered my son cold hard cash if he would pick up lacrosse in the spring instead. “What are you talking about, Mom? I am definitely playing baseball.”
“Really, dude? There’s nothing I can give you to make you not play? Nothing?”
“I don’t even have to think about that. I’m playing.”
“Everybody has a price, little man. Just name it.”
“Mom, you’re acting weird. Please stop.”
So frustrating! “You know what, kid? You have NO future in politics! None! Remember that!”
Seriously, I would have offered him a THOUSAND dollars not to play and I honestly think he would have turned it down. Drat.
So, if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you know I post my family’s dinner every night. I won’t promise high quality images, just the real deal. But you should start expecting slow cooker meals and/or soups and stews on Thursdays for the next 2 1/2 long months. Games are from 5:30 – 8:00 pm and I don’t expect my daughters to wait until 8:15 to eat (or at 4:30 for that matter.) So I need something that can stay warm for a few hours without drying out.
I know the first day of spring is this week and I couldn’t be more thrilled. But let’s face it, the temperature doesn’t all of a sudden go up by 15 degrees on March 21st. Soups are still in play! (That was a cheesy pun, but I couldn’t resist.) I love, love, love this kale and white bean minestrone. I taught this soup in my classes last month, but I have been making a version of this forever. It’s hearty and flavorful, but still light since it’s all veggies and beans. I make it with chicken stock very often, but also with vegetable stock. Sometimes Mr. Picky and I will eat something before the game like peanut butter toast and then have a bowl of hot soup like this when we get home. Really hits the spot. Because the beans add great protein, I’ll also reheat leftovers for school lunch the next day.
I think kale is amazing in this soup, but I have also made it with Swiss chard and I think collards would be great, too. Sometimes I’ll add a little extra tomato paste to make it more tomato-y. But I almost never make it without my secret ingredient, a rind of Parmesan cheese. This makes this soup so flavorful and rich without you actually eating cheese. Although I can never resist grating some fresh Pecorino on top.
Sadly, I think many of you are bracing for another snow storm. This soup’s for you!
white bean and kale minestrone
3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste ( I like Bionaturae)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped (measure the rosemary, then chop)
3 ½ cups of cooked white beans (such as Cannellini or Great Northern) or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed* click here to learn how to make your beans from scratch
2 teaspoons sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (You will need about 3 teaspoons of salt if your stock is unsalted.)
piece of rind from Parmesan cheese (if you have it, otherwise don’t worry about it)
6 cups of stemmed, coarsely chopped kale or Swiss chard leaves*
Accompaniments: serve with garlic toast, a drizzle of olive oil and/or grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Add the white beans, salt, pepper and parmesan rind. Try to mash a few of the beans in the pot. This will help thicken the soup later.
- Pour in the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat so that soup gently simmers and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes (or longer if you want), or until vegetables are tender.
- Stir in kale leaves and simmer another 8 minutes or until kale is tender. Taste for seasoning and serve with or without desired accompaniments.
*Or you can use 1 can of beans and 1 pound of chopped Yukon Gold potatoes.
**If you use Swiss chard, separate the stems from the leaves before starting the recipe and chop both. Sauté the chopped stems with the onions and add the chopped leaves at the end.