Kale and Sausage, two ways
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.
(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.
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.
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.
White Bean, Kale, and (possibly) Meatball Soup
(adapted from Bitchin Camero)
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
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
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.
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.
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.