Give your greens somewhere to go

Last night for dinner we had pasta with meat sauce and a side of wilted arugula, garlic and nicoise olives. If you are trying to get more greens in your life, wilting them performs the miracle of melting what looks like an unsurmountable amount of leaves to nearly nothing. I tend to buy every green available in the store, and it can be a challenge towards the end of the week to use them up. I live in Queens and my grocery store is in Brooklyn and though there was a time in my life I would have insisted on finding a way to buy perishables daily, it isn’t now. Thursday is cook it or lose it. I’m making potato and leek soup, which you can make a huge amount of and then just split it into smaller batches to get your broccoli spears steaming in one pot, your swiss chard in another and your kale in another. Or you could forget that and throw all your different greens in together with the potato and leek, and stand up and be counted among the healers of the nation. (Before I get carried away though, remember that the tougher greens like collards or kale need to be steamed or boiled for a few minutes before they go in the soup, or they can go in the beginning with the potates. Be sure to remove the stems.)
A really smooth soup is a thing to behold and savor, and if you have the time, you can pour it though a sieve after blending. I don’t own a big enough sieve, and I don’t intend on getting one, because I can’t stand the pressure of knowing it’s in the drawer and that I should be using it. It’s a choice between a few lumps and maintaining my goal of being a pleasant human being.
Clean the leeks by slicing off the tough outer green leaves, holding each leek pointing down at a 45 degree angle, as if it were a stick you were wittling. A little of the tender green at the top is fine. Cut off the root and then slice each one down the middle. Fill a large bowl with water, and let the leeks soak in there. Separate some the layers as much as you can, to be sure the dirt and sand is released. Remove and dry off a bit. Get a large heavy soup pot hot with a little olive oil and butter. Roughly cut the leeks and saute with some salt and a clove of garlic. Peel about 5 or 6 potatoes for one bunch of leeks. Add those to the pot, cut into large pieces. Add a little more salt and stir for about 2 minutes. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme or parsely or even a bay leaf. Cover the vegetables with just enough water to come to the top of them. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add any kind of greens with a drizzle of olive oil over the top and cover again for 2 or 3 minutes until the greens are just cooked. Puree however you like. Stir in a drop (or more) of cream to finish, or not, but I like it. You could also drizzle with your best olive oil and give it a good grating of Parmesan or a little ricotta salata or even a sprinkle of goat cheese. Serve with sliced baguette that has been lightly warmed, or grilled. This is great with dried sausage. Don’t be jealous that in about a month, I’m going to be eating some of the best dried sausage anywhere.

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