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Kale basket

Harvesting and Preparing Kale from the Garden

Authors: Naima Ibrahim, Tiare Silvasy, Virgilia Zabala

Kale in raised bed

Kale growing at UF/IFAS Extension Orange County. Photo credit: Naima Ibrahim

Kale (Brassica oleracea L.) is a dark-green leafy vegetable and cool season crop thats planting season is close to an endFor anyone living in Central Florida, the timeframe for planting kale outdoors begins in September and spans until February. It is fairly easy to grow, even for an inexperienced gardener. Kale can grow in part shade to full sun and needs regular watering. It can be harvested as needed after about 60 days. To ensure the continuous growth of the plant, it is important not to harvest more than a third of it at a time, and to start picking from the lower leavesInterested in successfully growing your own kale, or any other vegetable? Detailed steps on how to do so can be found in the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide. 

There are different varieties of kale that can be categorized as edible or ornamental. While the latter can also be eaten, it is usually used as a garnish for other dishes because of its bitterness. Popular edible kales include: Curly, Dinosaur and Russian; curly is the one most often found at your local grocery store. Because of its richness in iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K, this vegetable is classified as a superfood (UF IFAS Gardening Solutions, 2020). Kale can be consumed in a multitude of ways: baked as chips, blended into a smoothie, chopped up into a salad, and more. Today, we will be sharing a quick and easy soup recipe that will serve as an additional way to prepare this beneficial plant. 

Hearty Beans and Kale Soup

Kale soup ingredients

Kale and Bean Soup Ingredients. Photo credit: Naima Ibrahim

Basic Ingredients and Materials:  
  • A bunch of fresh kale 
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • A medium sized red onion 
  • A can of butter beans 
  • A can of black-eyed peas  
  • A can of red kidney beans  
  • 2 cups of broth of your choice (chicken or vegetable) 
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • (Optional) salt or pepper to taste 
  • Knife 
  • Cutting board 
  • A medium pot 
 Instructions: 
  1. Wash the kale and remove the stems. Chop the kale leaves and red onion on the cutting board and set aside. 
  2. Place a medium pot on the stove on medium heat and drizzle in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Begin softening the chopped red onion in the oil. 
  3. Crush the cloves of garlic and add to the pot along with the kale leaves. Stir until the kale begins to wilt slightly. 
  4. Pour in the broth and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until your kale is softened.  
  5. Add in half a can of butter, black-eyed, and red kidney beans, and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes. All of the beans are not mandatory. If desired, you can select only one of your choice. Choose low sodium beans for heart health.
  6. An optional step is to add in some salt, pepper, or any spice of your choosing, for taste.  
  7. Serve while hot, and enjoy!

    Kale soup

    Kale soup. Photo credit: Naima Ibrahim

This hearty soup is great for any kind of weather, and is an easy and flavorful way to add this nutritious leafy vegetable into your diet! 

Sources: 

Brown, S. P., Treadwell, D., Stephens, J. M., & Webb, S. (2018). Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide. EDIS University of Florida IFAS Extension, SP 103. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021 

UF IFAS Gardening Solutions. (2020Jan. 3). Kalehttps://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/kale.html