Pairings: Suave zin shines with Portuguese beef and kale soup

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Heads up, zin lovers! Our Wine of the Week, the Louis M. Martini 2016 Gnarly Vine Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel ($70), is ready, willing and able to dazzle you.

On first sip, you’ll notice a bountiful crop of ripe blackberries, followed by bursts of black plum, red plum, cranberry and pomegranate, with the flavor of black peppercorns emerging just before the wine’s lingering finish.

The texture is rich and supple, but there’s a brightness, a pleasing acidity that adds a feisty, edgy element. This is one gorgeous zinfandel.

The wine is a natural with ribs, especially slow-cooked smoked ribs slathered with sauce that is neither too hot nor too sweet. Make the sauce out of blueberries and the match is even better. Chicken stuffed under its skin with chorizo and olives, pasta with black-eye peas and chard and chili Colorado, provided it’s not too spicy, are all excellent matches.

Braised sausages with polenta, shell beans and mashed potatoes are great companions, too, as are sweet potatoes, carrots and roasted sunchokes.

For today’s recipe, I’ve chosen a classic Portuguese soup that I’ve taken a few liberties with by adding red wine, clams and a different variety of bean.

If you can’t find clams or if they are too expensive, PEI mussels are a good substitute.

Portuguese-Inspired Kale Soup with Short Ribs & Clams

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds beef short ribs

— Kosher salt

2 yellow onions, diced

¾ cup dry red wine

1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled

3 bunches Lacinato kale, trimmed and sliced into crosswise strips

3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced

2 cups cooked, dried shell beans (see note below)

— Pinch red pepper flakes

— Black pepper in a mill

3 pounds small clams or cockles, rinsed and scrubbed

— Extra-virgin olive oil

— Best-quality white wine vinegar

Sourdough hearth bread, hot

Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot set over medium heat, add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the short ribs to a plate, put the onions in the pot, reduce the heat and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the red wine, increase the heat to high and burn off all but about a tablespoon of the wine. Season with salt and pepper, transfer the onions to a bowl and return the short ribs to the pot.

Add 10 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes; skim off any foam that forms on the surface.

Add the cooked onions, garlic, kale, beans and red pepper flakes. Season with black pepper and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are completely tender.

Add the clams, cooking for about 7 to 8 minutes more and remove from the heat. Use a wide slotted spoon to check for any clams that do not open; discard them.

Taste and correct the seasoning. Ladle into warm soup bowls and drizzle with a swirl of olive oil and a few drops of vinegar. Enjoy right away, with hot bread alongside.

Note: I typically cook the beans for this soup the day before I make it. Small red beans are traditional. When I can find them, I prefer creamy white marrowfats. If you’re not sure what to use, look for Rancho Gordo brand.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at

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