Sausage and Kale Soup

*Or “One can only eat so much kale sautéed with garlic”

What to do with a ton of kale? And you in the back waving your hand and whispering “Make kale chips! Make kale chips!”, you can just put your hand down mister, because I hate kale chips. I’m pretty much the only one though. I get that people like kale chips, and I’m not going to stop anybody from making them, you just won’t find me willingly making them myself. (Mom, Dad, if you’re wondering, you just take the kale, cut it into snack-sized pieces, toss them with olive oil and salt, and bake them for 15 minutes or so at about 300, and they end up crispy and salty and people are absolutely nuts about them). The one thing I have ever tried doing with kale was sautéing it last winter in Denver, which I did because the girls upstairs gave me a bunch from their garden. And sautéed kale is delicious, but a little goes a very long way and kale appears to be a staple of the season. I’m gonna need some fresh ideas.

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The Fresh Idea

My sole prior experience with kale was the previous winter in a very special little bar called Stones Pub in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It is small and cozy and a little out of the way. There are ten seats at the bar and maybe four tables. The winter I lived in Gloucester I went to Stones almost every Saturday to get what I deemed the best burger in town, watch college football, and shoot the breeze with Jamie the bartender. Because it was winter, there were mostly locals coming in, but everyone there was just as welcoming to visitors as they were to regulars. It’s a great place. If you’re ever in town, take an hour and stop in.

Anyway, occasionally Jamie would set something down for me to try. It might be a homemade macaroon the other bartender had brought in, or a piece of carrot cake, or one time, a cup of sausage and kale soup. All of the samples I got were delicious, but the soup stood out. At the time I figured it was something they made up, but it turns out it’s a real soup with all kinds of variations. Some have cream, some include beans, some call for a can of diced tomatoes. I looked at five or six recipes and took what I liked out of each (beans, white wine, no cream, no diced tomatoes), then added a few things (slow roasted cherry tomatoes, tons of red pepper flakes). I won’t always include recipes, but this one is worth passing on. It turned out great and was perfect with some toast on a cold night!

Ingredients

1 pound Italian sausage (at least)

1 medium onion, chopped

5 cups chopped fresh kale (at least. I was dumping in double handfuls of the stuff. It’s tough to overdo the kale)

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes***

1/2 cup white wine

1 carton (26 ounces) chicken stock (or if you are me and have a normal-sized can of stock, 1 can stock, 1 can water, and a chicken bouillon cube)

1 can cannellini beans, drained

2-3 cups red potatoes, cubed

1 batch slow-roasted tomatoes

Salt/pepper

***I am the only person in the world who would ever put this much in, but I used sweet Italian sausage so I hit it hard with the spice. A sane person might do more like ¼ or ½ teaspoon

Directions

Crumble sausage into a stew pot; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until cooked through. Drain if it needs it (mine didn’t), reserve drippings; set sausage aside. Add garlic and, pepper flakes (if using them); cook til the garlic smells good. Add wine; cook 2 minutes longer.

Stir in the stock, beans, potatoes, roasted tomatoes, pepper and sausage mixture. Bring to a boil. Add Kale. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until kale is tender.

PS. If you have any ideas for using kale, please in the name of pity, share!

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