We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gluten-Free New Year ~ Creamy and Delicious Gluten-Free Broccoli and Kale Soup

by Linda

   It is still winter here in Northern California, but as we approach the Vernal Equinox I am seeing signs of Spring. The brilliant yellow of the mustard blossoms in the vineyard rows and the vibrant canary-colored flowers of the abundant acacia trees are always a welcome sign that presages warmer weather and longer days are just ahead. Even so, the days are still mostly damp and chilly and perfect for making soup.

   We sisters are fast approaching the second birthday of our blog. Our reader's stats tell us that there are several thousand of you that take time to peruse our virtual pages each month, and we are humbly grateful that you continue to be interested in our recipes and musings, and we would love to know who more of you are. We also recognize that the Blogger format does not make it easy to leave comments. It is quite a change for me to know that now when I sit at my computer to write, real people are going to be reading my words, instead of the imaginary audience that we were writing to when we began our adventure two years ago.
   Since Michelle and her family are off to the gorgeous mountains of Colorado for a ski vacation for a few days, I am in charge of writing this week's post. I have decided that it is time for me to share a big change in my life. A month ago I began a drastic (but actually easier than I thought it was going to be) alteration of my diet. I have joined the millions in this country who are going gluten-free. I have also cut out all refined sugars. When I admitted my change in diet on my Facebook page, one of my friends commented with, "Oh, no! What about Salvation Sisters?" Good question... what about Salvation Sisters? 
Winter garden with lots of kale at Lynmar Estate winery in Sebastopol.
   Here is the lovely part of our blog not having ties to advertisers from whom we earn money. We are free to experiment, and write about anything at all that strikes our fancy. Michelle who has gone gluten-free along with me still has a family to cook for who are all very skeptical and resistant to the change and challenge of being gluten-free. She will most likely still be cooking with wheat at times even if she isn't eating it herself right now. We will see, although she has recently purchased a few gluten-free baking books, and we are both excited about trying new recipes. I on the other hand, am fully committed to the change. For the first time in my entire life, I am living in a house devoid of wheat flour, and all sugary items are gone with the exception of white sugar to make hummingbird nectar and some very dark chocolate (a must have for sweet craving emergencies). For the record, I am not counting calories (or points) and I am eating healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, butter and heavy cream. I cut processed vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut and the like) out of my diet quite some time ago. There has already been a payoff. In one month's time, I am wearing jeans that I have not worn for a year. 

   I will be writing more about my journey sans wheat and sugar in the days to come. I am already having success at finding new ways to make old favorites, and the broccoli and kale soup recipe that I am sharing in this post is a good example. Cream of broccoli soup is one of my all time favorites. The revision of my standard recipe now includes kale (which is a nutritional powerhouse as I have written previously) and some coconut oil. The soup is still thick and delicious, and I have been taking it regularly in a Thermos to work. I do not miss the wheat roux or potato that I previously used to thicken the soup one bit. 

   In my future posts, I will share the compelling evidence that finally convinced me to make this change, and tell you more about my mentor, Misty, who has held my hand and given me lots of moral support during my transition to being gluten and sugar free. Being one jeans size smaller in only a month, I am very encouraged. I also joined a health club a week ago, and come summer (however short its duration), I hope to be wearing dresses, skirts and shorts which I have not done in more summers than I care to admit. One thing hasn't changed... we sisters still love great food, and so please count on us to bring you recipes that you will want to make even if they do happen to be gluten-free.

Creamy Gluten-Free Broccoli and Kale Soup

   This soup has been a regular in my lunch box this past month. It is über quick to prepare and while it is thick, creamy and filling, it is very low on starch. My addition of turmeric and garlic add even more antioxidant power and flavor to the broccoli and kale, making this one of the healthiest soups around.

Makes approximately two quarts of soup.

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
2-3 pounds broccoli, chopped into 1 inch pieces (include the stems but peel them and cut them into 1/4 inch-thick slices)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Italian dried herbs
large pinch of crushed red chili flakes
2-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 oz chopped kale or baby spinach (4 large leaves)
heavy cream
sea salt
pepper to taste

Sauté veggies and spices until tender in the butter and coconut oil until the onion is translucent and the spices are cooked. Add chicken/vegetable stock until it just covers the vegetables (do not add too much~ you can always add more) and then simmer until the broccoli is very tender (15-20 minutes). While simmering keep the pot covered, but stir often. When veggies are soft, blend the mixture with immersion blender. When thick and smooth, add cream to taste (about 1/4 cup). Adjust seasoning and enjoy.

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