Fall Harvest Soup!
By Dennis Linden
Jenny Ramirez, a member of Melissa’s accounting team, submits this month’s featured recipe for a warming soup that fits the blustery weather of November. Jenny's Quick Potato Kale Soup recipe does not require hours of stovetop cooking and takes very little time to prepare. So it makes a great one-dish hearty meal after a long day at the office--with enough left over to heat up for lunch at work the next day and probably the day after! Jenny’s short ingredient list centers around enhancing the natural flavors of a few common crops from the recent fall harvest: Dutch Yellow® potatoes, sweet onions and kale. The veggies are cooked in broth laced with spicy Italian Style Turkey Sausage, heavy cream and seasoned simply with salt & pepper to taste.
While kale is available year around, this member of the cabbage family grows best in cool weather; the crop that was planted in late summer is just arriving at retail produce departments now and is extremely tender at this time of the year! Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around that is packed with vitamins and nutrients beyond compare! Kale is the top lutein-containing food in the USDA's National Nutrient Database, which analyzed 5,350 foods that contain this carotenoid nutrient. Lutein is perhaps best known for its role in eye health for its ability to protect different parts of the eye from potential damage by light or oxygen. Sidebar: my own kale intake is the first inquiry that my eye doctor asks at the beginning of every exam visit!
Jenny also finds another delicious way to use Melissa’s proprietary Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes. The variety is round with distinct yellowish-white skins. These baby potatoes can be cooked in almost any way imaginable and provide a delicious way to round out a healthy diet. They have a light, subtle flavor and a creamy, buttery texture. To preserve the nutrients that are contained in this variety, leave the skins on and simply scrub gently in water before using. Jenny slices her DYP thin, rather than puréeing, to speed up the cooking process as well as to give some texture to her dish. The variety pairs well with the spicy Italian Sausage that gives this soup a little extra…pizzazz!
“I love this recipe. It is quick and easy. A friend gave me the original, but I tweaked it to suit the tastes of my family,” said Jenny. “In fact, my children beg me to cook this dish regularly and there are never leftovers -- we always finish the entire pot in one sitting. It is nice to feed them a hot, nutritious meal that takes very little time to prepare. With my busy schedule, quick and nutritious is a way of life!”
Jenny Ramirez has been a member of Melissa’s Accounting team for thirteen years. From an accounting point of view the perishability of the produce industry is quite unique compared to, say, the nail business. If 100 nails are received into an inventory, then 100 nails can and will be accounted for no matter how long it take to sell them. In the perishable produce business 100 boxes of apples may be received, while sales may only total 95. Many an accountant has failed to grasp this five-box shortfall as simply part of the perishable shrinkage factor that is inherent when handling fresh perishable fruits and vegetables. While the accounting end of this business may not be very glamorous, without it there is no business. So, no matter how good a job the Sales Department does in getting customers to purchase our brand, transactions are not completed until someone takes over to track, invoice and collect for the goods received.
“It takes a lot of work keeping track of hundreds of accounts daily. My work is not as fun as sales where you get to meet growers and learn produce-- I set up new accounts and make sure invoices get paid,” Jenny explained. “The most challenging part of my job is keeping all of the accounting tasks on track. Every problem has a story. My job is to help our customers become successful in their businesses, listen, have compassion, understanding and to find a mutual solution when there is a problem with the numbers.”
When not at the office making the sales staff look good, Jenny describes herself as “a full time Mom”. A single parent with a houseful of dogs and kids, life is not boring to say the least. Her 10-year-old son, Gus-Anthony, enjoys sports so always needs to be driven to a practice or game somewhere. Then there’s precious 16-year-old Adreana, who is taking such advanced classes in high school that she will graduate as a sophomore -- in college! Jenny says she gave up trying to help her daughter with her homework long ago as the subject matter is way over her head! Her oldest daughter and best friend, Vanessa, attends college and is just enjoying life as a twenty-year-old right now. The three canine members of the family span the range of dog sizes and temperaments. There’s Tiny (a Chihuahua), Bam-Bam (a Bichon Frise, poodle like) and in her spare time there’s Byzer, a 6-month-old Siberian husky puppy to deal with! Tiny and Bam-Bam, who have always been calm and laid back, are having to cope with this new large, hairy, active puppy in their space.
“He is a huge, clumsy, ball of fluff who loves pushing the other dogs around and is quite a handful at this age, like all youngsters – just another thing to manage in my busy household” Jenny mused, adding. “That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy going out with my friends. I am a social butterfly. Love going to dinners and movies, just enjoying life. Working full time and being there for your kids means I am on the run all hours of the day and night. I walk a tight rope trying to juggle my personal life and my Mom Life and I would not trade it for the world!”
Soup is on! Thanks Jenny.
Quick Potato Kale Soup
1½ lbs. Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes, sliced thin
1 medium-size Perfect Sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch Kale, destemmed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 LB Turkey Italian sausage (spicy)
1 box (32 oz.) Chicken Broth
2 cups Water
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Placed rinsed potatoes, still wet, in zip lock bag. Microwave until cooked through. Set aside.
Place small amount of oil in a soup pot and brown the onions. Add to the pot, in layers, the potatoes, kale and sausage.
Add chicken broth and water, which should almost cover the other ingredients. Place the lid over the pot and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then raise heat to boil, add in cream, stir until thoroughly combined, salt and pepper to taste and then let simmer for another 10 minutes.