Friday, October 23, 2009

Cailleach Soup

I go through periods of inspired cooking. Fortunately for everyone around me, I am in one of those spells now. Often a new cookbook is the inspiration for my cooking enthusiasm, and when coupled with the changing of the seasons, well ... the cookbook that has me enthralled at the moment is Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson. It's organized by the 8 seasons of the pre-Celtic year, and is full of good recipes made with healthful, whole ingredients. I recommend it highly!

Earlier this week, I made a soup based on a recipe Cait calls Cailleach Soup, a play on words for Kale Leek Soup. The recipe looked a little thin to me, so I added potatoes, and it was perfect.

First, a little about The Cailleach. Mara Freeman writes:

A Dark Goddess of nature, particularly in Scotland, is the Cailleach, a name that came to mean “Old Wife”, but which is literally, “Veiled One,” an epithet often applied to those who belong to hidden worlds. To this name is often added Bheur: ‘sharp’ or ‘shrill’, for she personifies the cutting winds and harshness of the northern winter. She was also known as the daughter of Grianan, the “little sun” which in the old Scottish calendar shines from Hallowmas to Candlemas, followed by the “big sun” of the summer months.

So, you see the timing for this soup is actually divine. Perhaps a perfect offering soup to the spirits of our ancestors. Now, here's the recipe:

In a heavy soup pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil & 1 Tbsp butter.

Add 3 leeks, white parts only, washed well to remove grit, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds.

Next add 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.

Wash and coarsely chop a bunch of kale. I used a ruffled red variety. Add to pot.

Wash & cut into bite-size pieces 5 new potatoes. Add these to the pot, too.

Finally, add a quart of vegetable stock and a quart of water.

Simmer until everything is tender. Season with some nice Celtic sea salt & serve!

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