Late summer minestrone

late summer minestrone|pamela salzman

Oh, I am not very good at goodbyes.  And saying farewell to summer is just inevitable now, isn’t it?  My minestrone soup is one of those recipes that bridges summer and fall.  Zucchini and tomatoes are still plentiful in the farmer’s markets, but the weather is showing signs of cooling down.  We’ve had a few chilly and foggy beach days in the last week and that was my signal to make this favorite soup of ours.  The word minestrone means “big soup” in Italian.  To me it means, “use what you’ve got, ” especially lots of veggies.  No matter what, it’s always hearty enough to be called a meal, but light enough for the season.  My mom used to make it with elbow macaroni or the smallest of pastas, but I adore farro and find that it adds a heartiness that the pasta doesn’t.  Plus, it has more to offer in the way of fiber and protein.  Combined with white beans, this is a well-balanced meal that almost always makes its way into thermoses in tomorrow’s lunch box.  Have I mentioned lately that making school lunches is not my favorite morning pastime?  I know, I’m such a whiiiiiner.  But Daughter #1 is trying to be an overachiever this year and start school at 7:00 am.  Do you know what this means?  I need to be making lunch around 6:00 am OR I could just reheat minestrone five minutes before we need to leave the house.  Sounds like a plan!

As the seasons change, so does this soup.  I have used jarred tomatoes instead of fresh, and frozen shelled peas and cabbage for the zucchini.  Don’t be put off by the piece of rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese.  It’s a little secret ingredient found in so many Italian kitchens.  One you see how delicious it makes this soup, you’ll never throw it out again!   My mom would make this soup or pasta e fagioli whenever we would come to the end of a piece of Parmesan.  In my house, my kids and husband love this soup so much that we buy buy the cheese just for the rind!  Mr. Picky even likes this soup.   His favorite thing to do is add a leftover meatball, chopped up into his bowl and he’ll have seconds, thank you very much.

late summer minestrone|pamela salzman

This week I will be harvesting almost all the basil and parsley in the garden and making a mountain of pesto to freeze in small quantities for the upcoming months.  At least I can make summer last a little longer in my own way.

late summer minestrone|pamela salzman


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5.0 from 4 reviews
Late Summer Minestrone
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped or 1 14.5 ounce can, diced with juice
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • ¾ cup farro
  • Piece of rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (if you have it)
  • 4 small zucchini, medium dice, about 4 cups
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans (e.g. cannellini, Great Northern), rinsed if canned
  • Handful of greens, coarsely chopped
  • Chopped basil leaves or pesto for garnish (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables to brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes with the juice, parsley and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Cook for 5 minutes more, until the tomatoes are fragrant.
  3. Add the stock and 2 teaspoons of sea salt and bring to a boil. Add the farro and the parmesan rind and bring to a boil again. Lower the heat so that the soup simmers. Cook about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, until the farro is tender but still has a little “toothiness.”
  5. Add the cooked beans and heat through. Add more stock, if desired.
  6. Add the chopped greens and stir until wilted. Adjust seasonings and serve with chopped basil leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese and/or drizzled olive oil on top or a spoonful of pesto.



Kale chips

My favorite line from “Modern Family” this season was when Mitchell returns from the farmer’s market and declares, “Did you hear?  Kale is the new spinach?!”  Damn right, it is.  Even though kale seems to be the new “it” vegetable, I meet lots of people in my classes who are still intimidated by this highly nutrient-dense leafy green.  I don’t know where to begin.  I can say, “don’t judge a book by its cover” or “don’t knock it ’til you try it.”  Or maybe you have tried it and it just didn’t float your boat.  If that’s the case, then you haven’t tried my kale salad with citrus dressing, because that will knock your socks off.

But if you been unsuccessful even getting your kids or picky spouse to try kale, you’ve got to take baby steps and that’s where kale chips come in.  Kale chips is something I mentioned in passing in the first cooking class I ever taught.   Years later, students still email me and ask me how to make them and I cannot believe I have never posted a kale chips recipe.   These light and crispy chips are akin in texture to those seaweed snacks that your kids devour at $1.59 per package (I will post how to make those another time because all that packaging getting thrown into landfills is keeping me up at night.)  If I had to describe what they taste like, I would say they’re like the lone brussels sprout leaves that got away from the head and roasted a little extra.  You know, the pieces that everyone fights over!  And they have the same slightly greasy, salty satisfaction as a potato chip, but it’s KALE.  My kids eat them right off the baking sheet, but if I manage to sneak a few away, I like to crumble them over popcorn or cooked grains, like quinoa or brown rice.  They even make a fun and delicious garnish on a soup, as shown in the final photo, topping a bowl of potato, white bean and escarole soup.

The three kinds of kale you are likely to find in your market are Red Russian, Curly Green, and Dinosaur, which also goes by Lacinato, black kale and Tuscan kale.  I use the Dinosaur kale most often since I like the leaves’ smoother edges better than the rough leaves on the others.  But the Curly Green works well for chips since it is a little thicker.  My Whole Foods has been touting the ANDI system for rating a food’s nutrient density relative to its calorie content and kale receives a perfect 1000 out of 1000.  Why?  Kale is incredibly high in calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, iron and antioxidants including including beta-carotene and lutein.  It is also high in fiber and low in calories.  All we are saying, is give kale a chance.

After making hundreds of pans of kale chips over the years, I have a few simple tips for you.  You can actually use whatever type of kale you want, but again I prefer the smoother edges of the Dino kale leaves.  It is very important that you dry your kale leaves very well before drizzling them with oil otherwise the oil won’t adhere well.  Arrange the leaves in one layer on the baking sheet so that they don’t overlap and they develop an even crispness.  Also, keep watch over the the chips while they’re in the oven and make sure they don’t burn.  If they do, they will look even scarier than when you first started and taste bitter.  And then, my friends, you’ll be back to square one with kids and kale.  But I have a hunch that the only sad part of kale chip-making will be that they disappear way too quickly!

Please feel free to post any questions you have about kale, whether it’s destined to be a chip or not.

Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch kale of your choice ( I used Dinosaur kale here because that's what I had.)
  • unrefined olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash kale and strip leaves off of stems. Discard stems. Dry kale really well and tear into large pieces.
  3. Place kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with just enough oil to coat the leaves lightly.
  4. Arrange kale leaves in one layer on a baking sheet. Feel free to line the baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper if it's aluminum. Sprinkle leaves with sea salt.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, turning halfway. They should be dry and crispy. The leaves change to an olive-y green color, sometimes even a little yellow, but they should not be brown or burned.


Mushroom-barley soup with kale recipe

shiitake mushroom-barley soup with kale

I was craving a hearty, meal-in-a-bowl soup for dinner last night.  Something I could pull together before the kids returned home from school and that I could pack in their thermoses for lunch the next day.  Mushroom-barley soup came to mind in an instant.  I taught this soup in a class back in October and I still haven’t tired of it.  It is filling, tasty and oh-so-good for you.

The recipe is an adaptation of my mother’s beef and barley soup, which was great, but these days we’re limiting our beef consumption and upping the veggies.  To make up for the meat, I use lots of shiitake mushrooms and finish off the soup with a bit of shoyu, a naturally fermented soy sauce which is way  better for you than chemically treated, flash-processed soy sauce.  Of course you can use any mix of mushrooms you like, but I am crazy about shiitakes, not only because they have a lower water content and deeper flavor than button mushrooms, but also because they are tops in immune-boosting compounds.  There’s no better time than flu season to boost your immunity!

This soup is a breeze to put together and easily adaptable to different intolerances.  For the gluten-free folks, I substitute Lundberg’s wild rice blend for the barley and wheat-free tamari for the shoyu.  It’s obviously a different soup, but just as tasty.  Vegetarians and vegans can use vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken or turkey stock.  If you are making your own vegetable stock, add a bunch of mushrooms to it to give the soup more depth.

shiitake mushroom-barley soup with kale

This soup is a hit every time, even with Mr. Picky who last night did what he does best — pick out the stuff he doesn’t want.  This time it was only the mushrooms.  We’re making progress!

shiitake mushroom-barley soup with kale

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mushroom-Barley Soup with Kale
Serves: 6
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ¾ pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean with a damp paper towel and slice thinly
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup barley (or wild rice blend) -- I use Bob's Red Mill Barley. It says "Pearled," but it's really only semi-pearled.
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups stemmed, chopped kale
  • 3 Tablespoons shoyu or wheat-free tamari
  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery to pot and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  2. Place mushrooms in the pot and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add thyme and barley. Stir to coat. Add stock and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes until the barley is tender (if you're using the wild rice blend, you will need to simmer it for 50 minutes.)
  4. Add the kale and shoyu and cook until the kale is wilted, but still bright green, about 8 minutes. Pull out the thyme stems and taste for salt and pepper.

Raw kale salad with citrus dressing recipe

Raw Kale Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette | Pamela Salzman

The first time I ever made kale in a class, one student said ,”I’m afraid of kale.  I don’t know what to do with it.”  In each subsequent class that month, there would be someone else who said the same thing.  Say it isn’t so!  Are you the same people that use kale as a garnish for fruit salad platters?  You’re killing me!

Kale is your friend, your BFF even!  I must brag about this rock star leafy green.  Kale contains tremendous amounts of Vitamins K, A and C, as well as calcium and magnesium (very calming minerals, mind you.)  Allow me to keep going.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that kale is full of some powerful cancer-preventive compounds called glucosinolates and antioxidants (flavonoids), plus an amazing amount of ALA, the basic building block for Omega-3 fatty acids.   What I’m trying to say is that kale will love you inside and out.

How can you incorporate kale into your diet?  I love to saute it with garlic and olive oil, toss it into soups, slice it thinly and add it to tomato sauce, or roast it into a crispy chip.  But this salad is one of my favorites and has converted many non-kale-eaters, or kale-fearers, as the case may be.   Usually I teach a recipe so many times in a month that I never want to eat it again.  Except this one.  I make it at a least once per week and just change how I eat it according to what’s in season.  It is even my go-to meal for traveling because it is light, but filling and can handle being dressed ahead of time.  My standby is to add quinoa and chopped avocado, sometimes with a few sunflower seeds.  The girls take it to school for lunch usually topped with feta, quinoa, and some grated carrots.  However you decide to make this your own, the key to success here is thinly slicing the kale and massaging the dressing into the shredded leaves.  I actually give the kale a bit of squeeze with the dressing.  This will soften the leaves and reduce any bitterness you might expect.

I felt utter joy when my son, Mr. Picky (shown here massaging dressing into the kale), finally tried this salad and gave it the thumbs-up.  I do not exaggerate when I say he had been “exposed” to this salad at least 25 times before he tried it!  Don’t give up, people.


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5.0 from 1 reviews
raw kale salad with citrus dressing recipe
Serves: 6
  • 2 bunches of black kale (aka Tuscan, lacinato or dinosaur kale), about 12-14 ounces, wash and dried
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • A few twists of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons 100% pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 6-7 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (you can also substitute 2 Tbs. of flax seed oil for 2 Tbs. of olive oil)
  1. Remove the stems from the kale (see photo for an easy method -- by stripping the stem from the leaves) and stack a bunch on a cutting board. Thinly slice the kale with a sharp knife and transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat with remaining kale.
  2. Prepare the dressing: whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl and add enough dressing to coat the kale lightly. Massage the kale with the dressing. Add in your favorite salad fixings (shown here with red cabbage, quinoa, avocado and walnuts) and additional dressing, if needed.