Kale Saag Soup

Tofu Paneer:

1 16-Ounce Package Vacuum-Sealed Sprouted Tofu, or Extra-Firm Tofu, Pressed for 1 Hour

1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Zest and Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Kale Saag Soup:

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

2 Small Yellow Onions or 1 Large, Chopped (About 1 Cup)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Fresh Ginger

4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced

2 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

1 Teaspoon Mustard Powder

3/4 Teaspoon Turmeric

1/4 - 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

3 Cups Water or Vegetable Stock

1 Medium Potato, Peeled and Chopped (About 1 Cup)

1 Bunch Kale, Stemmed and Chopped

1 Cup Coconut Milk

1/2 Teaspoon Salt, or to Taste

Fresh Parsley or Cilantro for Garnish

First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees so that you can get the tofu "paneer" going. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes, and toss them into an 8-inch baking dish along with the remaining ingredients. Mix well to coat the tofu, and then arrange the cubes in one even layer, so they're not overlapping (touching is fine.) Bake for 45 minutes until just barely golden around the edges. I don't recommend tasting them plain; on their own, the "paneer" Will taste fairly sour and salty, but can balance out the soup (or most other dishes you want to throw them into) beautifully.

Meanwhile, get the soup going by melting the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the chopped onions, and saute until softened and translucent; about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic, continuing to cook until the onions take on a tinge of golden-brown color, which could be around 5 - 8 more minutes. Throw in all the spices next, and saute with the other aromatics for just a minute or two to bring out the flavors, but be careful not to burn anything.

Pour in the water or stock, and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot thoroughly to loosen and incorporate anything sticking. Follow that with the potato, and cover the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a lively simmer. Let bubble away for about 15 minutes, until the potato pieces are fork-tender. Mix in the chopped kale a little bit at a time so that it can wilt down and fit properly in the pot. Cover once more, and simmer for a final 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and add in the coconut milk. Either transfer the soup to your blender in batches to puree, or hit it with an immersion blender, until very smooth. Add salt to taste.

Ladle your smooth kale saag soup into bowls, and top with cubes of tofu paneer and the chopped fresh herbs of choice. Serve piping hot.

Serves 4 - 6

©Hannah Kaminsky http://www.bittersweetblog.com