I thought I would make Bon Appetit’s Kale Minestrone and the weather would be too warm to eat it. Thankfully, NYC had decided to become bipolar in the temperature department, and I’ve been able to enjoy this soup, in March, as snowflakes hit the ground. I tweaked the recipe a little bit, so I won’t be offended if you stick to the classic. I replaced the russet potatoes with sweet potatoes, because if you don’t know this already, they’re my favorite food ever. And sweet potatoes combined with kale and tomatoes? That’s what I would a call holy trinity. Bon appetite! INGREDIENTS 3 sprigs oregano 3 sprigs rosemary 2 bay leaves 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced 2 carrots, peeled, chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes Kosher salt 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained 1 Parmesan rind (about 2 ounces; optional) 3 cups cooked cannellini beans, cooking liquid reserved if desired, or two 15-oz. cans, rinsed Freshly ground black pepper 12 ounces sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into ½” pieces 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 1” pieces DIRECTIONS Tie oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Add pancetta, if using, and cook, stirring often, until browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and carrots are tender, 10–12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring to coat, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then herb bundle, Parmesan rind, if using, and 6 cups water or reserved bean cooking liquid, or a combination. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender and flavors have melded, 20–25 minutes. Add kale and beans; cook until kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind and herb bundle.
One of the benefits of working for a food magazine (besides the awesome food and experience, of course) is getting invited to press events at restaurants, bars, hotels, food fairs and more. I’ve done everything from learn about stout beers, to taste some of the finest oysters to watch an entire cow be butchered. My most recent adventure lead me to Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the opening of Umami Burger, and boy, was it worth the commute on the L train.
The atmosphere of Umami Burger is pretty much what you’d expect from a Brooklyn burger joint: hanging bicycles, long bar with an impressive draught, cool music and ironically placed next to a sweetgreen. My boyfriend and I were greeted by friendly, informative staff and a myriad of drinks, sides and burgers to try at our disposal, so try and try we did.
We started off with their beet salad, accompanied by spicy arugula, smoked almonds, mounds of a fluffy ricotta-goat cheese combo and a truffle vinaigrette that is to die for. The flavors and textures were so well balanced– now we understood why they call themselves “umami.”
Next came the burgers and sides: the original Umami burger, the K-BBQ burger, a specialty to the Brooklyn location, a side of Korean BBQ sweet potato fries to accompany the K-BBQ burger and a plate of their house made pickles.
Please excuse the poor lighting.
I get why the Umami burger is so popular and classic. It embodies everything good about any type of burger– or sandwich for that matter. The perfectly cooked freshly ground beef tastes how a burger should: fresh and meaty, without that lingering “packaged ground beef flavor,” as I like to call it. Shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions add a nice hint of earthy richness, while the roasted tomato keeps it lively. Topped with a Parmesan frico (Parmesan cheese that’s been baked for a few minutes until it melts and then hardens into a chewy, crunchy cracker type thing) and this burger certainly has it all.
The K-BBQ burger was a horse of a different color. It really did taste like something you would get at a Korean BBQ restaurant, which is what I loved about it, but I found the actual burger patty to be somewhat lost among the caramelized kimchee and Asian slaw. Nonetheless, I enjoyed both.
The sweet potato fries were topped with kimchee and goat cheese. Though they were accompanied by four different specialty sauces, they were delicious as they were. And the pickle plate, which included not just cucumber but also beets, carrots, turnips and fennel, was delightful and unexpected.
I have to say though, one of my favorite parts of the evening was the cocktail menu. We tried about five different drinks, each completely different and delicious. You can tell a lot of thought went into crafting these cocktails, a detail I greatly appreciate about any bar or restaurant.
So thank you, Umami Burger, for giving me a reason to cross you off my NYC restaurant bucket list, even if you were all the way in Brooklyn.