This was a lovely meal to welcome the New Year. And proof that simple can be extraordinary. It is from David Tanis’s One Good Dish.
POLENTINA ALLA TOSCANA
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 large onion diced
1/2 pound carrots peeled and diced
4 celery stalks diced
1 large fennel bulb trimmed and diced
salt and pepper
1 medium leek trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup polenta
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound Tuscan kale
1/2 teaspoon grated or finely chopped garlic
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Leaves from 1 rosemary sprig
In a heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel, season generous with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes or so, until barely softened. Add the leek and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the polenta, stirring to distribute it, and raise the heat to high. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the soup to simmer for about an hour; the broth should be just slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop the kale. Drain in a colander but do not dry. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the greens, stirring as they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes more. Set aside.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the kale. Sprinkle with the finely chopped rosemary, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan if desired.