Ben is one of my oldest friends. We met more than a decade ago in a friend's house here in Switzerland. Ever since we've shared a special friendship, exchanging many thoughts via old fashioned letters or emails. And over coffee when meeting in New York or Miami. Ben is a true New Yorker, loving his city. Whenever I visited he showed me favorite places of his and I got to see the city through his eyes. What a great experience! It's been a while now since my last trip to NYC, but I hope to be back soon.
Ben is a great, incredibly talented artist - capturing life so wonderfully detailed with his camera, his pencils and colors, and with his typewriter. Unfortunately, Ben never decided to publish all his amazing short stories - so I am one of the few lucky ones who've had a chance to read a few of these jewels. Every time Ben sends one of his famous "PL's" (picture letters) I get to enjoy great photography, fantastic sketches along with some brilliant musings and often fun observations and thoughts.
But Ben is not only one of the most inspiring friends I have, he also is a great cook, going for simple, full-of-flavor-no-fuss meals, enjoying food straight from the farmers' market, fresh corn, tomatoes... He recently shared one of his favorite recipes, a kale & prosciutto soup. And since I found this great organic kale the other day, I just had to try.
Here Ben's recipe, in his own words:
a thick slab of prosciutto, like a half inch thick, (you'll have to translate to the
metric), and it doesn't have to be the more expensive Parma, just 'domestic' is fine;
a big bunch of kale, can be the nice organic Locato, but the 'regular' will do;
fresh garlic, like maybe a dozen cloves;
an onion, Spanish or purple or sweet;
pasta; (I like shells, like semolina 'orecchiette', but whatever;
oil; not olive, but canola or a vegetable oil;
and some salt and pepper... up to you, or whomever. And that's it!
And then you need a big pot, with a lid. (I have a favorite old steel pot here in NYC, I think it's about 4-quarts? or maybe even bigger. And I love it because it heats up fast, and because it has a steamer-rack on the top, for when I'm just doing veggies.)
So then... on your cutting-board, slice up the garlic cloves. Not exactly diced; I like bigger chucks, like just 2 or 3 pieces from each clove, because later it gives you something to bite into; not just a taste, okay? And the same with the onion, just halved and chunked. And while you're doing that, spill some oil to liberally cover the bottom of your pot, and get the fire going underneath; hot-hot.
And then when the oil is burbling, toss in all the garlic and onions, and let it cook for a few minutes, as you stir it over now and then.
And while that's happening, slice up the prosciutto. And again, not diced, but in somewhat bigger pieces; just chunks. And when the garlic and onions are just beginning to brown, spill in the prosciutto. And then stir and mix up that concoction and let it cook for a few minutes... smell it, YUM!
And as that base cookerates, chop up your kale. Just in big leafy clumps, because it will shrink on you. And use the whole big batch. And then when your kale is ready...
Add about 4 or 5 or even 6 cups of hot water to your pot, and stir, and then...
Add the kale, and stir some more, and then toss in a big half-bag or whatever of the pasta.
And then, once the ingredients are almost boiling again, turn the flame down, and let it all simmer for a while. But it'll be ready quickly. Just stir every few minutes.