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Kale and Sausage, two ways

October 9, 2009

I feel like I’m on Iron Chef. Today’s secret ingredients are… Italian sausage and kale! In the form of soup. You have 60 minutes to create 2 soups using those two ingredients in each dish.

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(Take heart vegetarians and non-pork eaters! You don’t need meat for at least one of these dishes and of course you can always use turkey sausage. If you don’t like kale though, you are SOL.)

The reason I made two soups out of these two ingredients is because I had a glut of them and needed to use them up. I’m becoming the queen of economy.

Pity the person who doesn’t like kale. It’s like a sturdier version of spinach, which is why I like to use it in soups. As much as I love cooked spinach, there is something about it laying flaccid in my soups that just bothers me. Also, kale is ridiculously cheap. I got a huge American-sized bunch for something like 88cents and I haven’t used half of it yet.

The first recipe is something I riffed off of a Mark Bittman recipe. I know, I know, whenever he publishes another recipe in the New York Times, 99% of the food bloggers in the world rush off to re-enact it in their kitchens. However, the recipe is from this past spring and I feel like I’ve changed it enough to make it my own. I switched from spinach to kale, for the reasons I mentioned above. He also tells you to add the bread before you pour the water in, which I did despite my reservations that the bread would get soggy and slimy. I should have listened to my instinct here, as that is exactly what happened here. My discriminating palates (ie, my dad and little brother) actually loved that part of the soup. They said it reminded them of dumplings. I, on the other hand, did not like that so I’ve instructed you to add it at the end as a topping.

Zuppa Arcidossana

Serves 4


1/2lb Italian sausage, casings removed (any amount near this will do)

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup stale bread cut into small cubes (aka croutons)

olive oil, salt, pepper

2 handfuls of kale (or spinach if you’re kale-averse, sigh)

1 1/2 – 2 cups water

ricotta salata (Bittman suggests Feta as an alternative, both are rather optional)

chopped fresh parsley


1. Brown sausage in a medium-large saucepan or pot, with a swirl of olive oil if you feel like it. Do NOT drain fat from the pan.

2. Add carrots, onions, and garlic and saute for another 10-ish minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste… just a sprinkle though, as your sausage is already seasoned.

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Note how I had added the bread cubes prior to the water, as per the original recipe šŸ˜¦

3. Add kale and cook for another few minutes, just until it wilts. Then add 1 1/2 cup of water and simmer until the water reduces a bit. As Bittman says, this should be more of a stew than a soup. Add more water if you want more broth.

4. Serve topped with fresh parsley, some crumbled ricotta salata, and the stale bread.

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White Bean, Kale, and (possibly) Meatball Soup

(adapted from Bitchin Camero)

Serves 6


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1 cup ditalini or small tubular pasta, uncooked

1 15oz can cannellini/white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock. You could probably dilute the stock a bit if you’re feeling extremely economical)

5-6 cloves garlic

medium onion

1tbsp tomato paste

1/2tsp cayenne pepper (optional if you’re spicy-averse like Maz!)

2-3 big handfuls of kale, rinsed and torn

1tbsp lemon juice

olive oil

Parmesan cheese

For the meatballs, optional:

1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed

1/4 – 1/3 cup breadcrumbs


1. Get started with the meatballs: combine the breadcrumbs and meat, and then roll into little balls. Cook in a medium pan with a little oil (not olive oil, something that can stand up to high heat. Using olive oil for this scares me a little.) until brown on all sides and cooked through, about 7 minutes. You can cook these on one burner and cook the rest of the soup fixins on the other burner.

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2. Heat your pan, add olive oil and heat, then throw in the onions and garlic. Saute until translucent.

3. Add the tomato paste, cayenne pepper, and stock and bring to a simmer.

4. When it’s at a nice low boil, add the pasta, beans, kale, and lemon juice. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Throw in the meatballs as they finish cooking in the other pan.

5. When the pasta is cooked, serve up with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

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Of these two soups, I liked the second one more. It seems like it’s good enough to stand on its own without the meat, though maybe that’s because I used chicken stock. If you wanted to use sausage but felt icky about handling it or were just plain lazy, I bet you could just brown the sausage and then add it. It would be a little meatier that way, with sausage in every bite.

Could you imagine how much fun this would be to make both of these soups at once?! In 60 minutes you’d have two meals to put in the fridge and freezer! You’d be set on soups for weeks.

Looking for another recipe to finish off that huge bunch of kale? Molly Wizenberg has a recipe for spaghetti with braised kale in Bon Appetit that I’ll probably try to make myself in the next few days. Along with every other food blogger, because Molly rocks.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Aniekie permalink
    October 9, 2009 13:48

    I’m not going to lie, I had to check what kale was(though the picture basically confirmed it for me). I’ve never seen it used outside the very Dutch dish ‘Mash & Kale’ (this is the very near literal translation of ‘Stamppot Boerenkool’)
    Every Dutchie knows it, cuz we’ve all eaten it at least once every winter!
    But it’s very nice to see kale used in some other dishes as well, cuz mashed potatoes and kale.. well it doesn’t really change much year after year šŸ˜‰

    I promise one of these days I’ll actually find the time to make some of the recipes (though I think I have yet to see kale in the stores over here (since we only use it for a winter dish))

    love it!

    • Kristen permalink*
      October 9, 2009 17:16

      Is ‘Stamppot Boerenkool’ really just as easy as combining mashed potatoes & kale? Because it sounds yummy, a good winter dish for sure šŸ™‚ And I have lots of kale left to use!

      • Aniekie permalink
        October 11, 2009 10:51

        basically, yes šŸ˜€ isn’t it brilliant šŸ™‚ traditionally you boil the potatoes and kale together in one pot and then mash it.
        But if you do that your kale will be a bit icky imo. So I usually make my mash seperately and only cook the kale seperately, so it has a nice bite left (I checked recipes and they say cook it for 30 mins, ICK!!!) and then ‘stir’ the kale through the mash.
        We eat it with gravy, or mustard-sauce and serve another very dutch thing with it ‘rookworst’ (smoked sausage) but you can eat anything with it you want šŸ˜€

  2. Maz permalink*
    October 11, 2009 13:02

    Ahh God, I love Spinach and have never tried kale before! Methinks it’ll be available in markets rather than the supermarkets, which are pretty good in having most things that I want. This soup is win win. That bread tip is great, it reminds me of the lamb and potato soup we have. It’s basic but very flavourful and you tear big chunks of brown bread and dunk it in and eat! I always put the bread right at the very end, otherwise the texture is really undesirable! Great job as usual Kristen!

  3. Carrie permalink
    November 14, 2009 17:45

    I really want to try the zuppa arcidossana this week, so my request is to please elaborate on the concept of “handfuls” of kale. šŸ™‚ Also, have you ever tried making it with broth instead of water?

    • Kristen permalink*
      November 14, 2009 19:14

      I wish I could be more specific about it… I just buy a big bunch of kale and then rip apart a few leaves and throw them in, then rip apart some more leaves. If you buy a HUGE bunch, I think you’ll use maybe 1/5-1/4 of the bunch? It’s highly scientific, I know. šŸ˜‰ Also kale shrinks a bit as you cook it, so you might want to put in a little more than you think is TOO much & it will be just right!

      I’ve never tried making it with broth before. I was a little suspicious that the recipe doesn’t call for it, but the sausage adds enough flavor to the water. Also, I’d be a little afraid that, unless you got low-sodium broth (which still has a lot of sodium!), it’d be too salty, because basically you’re only adding 1 can’s worth of liquid. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t run out to buy a can or crack open a can, but if you have a carton or can you want to use up, then try it!

      I hope that helped… sorry I can’t be more exact!

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