Danish Grønkaal Soup

Danish Grønkaal Soup

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It’s soothing to make soup. It starts with the vegetables, lined up and chopped; peeled if they need it. I love to strip a potato down nude, to unsheathe a beet, to push garlic through a press. These acts are timeless, repeated by everyone before and after us, for sustenance or pleasure. Often both. There’s a reliable harmony as the pot fills and boils down, and it’s calming to know it all comes together if you give it long enough. You can’t mess up a soup.

I’ve never made a soup I didn’t like. I’ve made plenty of other things, though: a jackfruit curry comes to mind. But soup is foolproof. If at first I’m not impressed, by dinnertime the ingredients will have alchemized into something entirely new, their indifference to one another dissolving in the broth. This kale soup is no exception.

With the smokiness of the ham and familiar warmth of the potatoes, the kale and its vegetable counterparts round out the soup with the bit of brightness it needs. The leeks and carrots add sweetness; the nutmeg is homey. It’s mid-winter in a bowl. Mine comes out a touch thicker than expected—more of a chowder—and I like it that way. We don’t need bread or cheese, or crackers to crumble on top. It’s complete as is. I had a hunch it would be.

The following is the recipe I used, as found here.


  • 1 recipe Ham Broth or 10 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups cubed cooked ham or 2 cups coarsely chopped meat from pork hocks

  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed (4 to 5 medium)

  • 1 ½ cups sliced carrots (3 medium)

  • 1 cup chopped leeks (3 medium)

  • 1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

  • ¾ cup quick-cooking rolled oats

  • 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh kale

  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker combine Ham Broth, ham, potatoes, carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Gradually stir in oatmeal. Stir in kale and thyme. If on low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more. 

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