"I can't think of a more perfect meal than a comforting, big bowl of soup." -Cristina Ferrare
Here in Northern Colorado we have been spoiled by over 2 weeks of unseasonably warm weather. It has been Spring Fever all the way (insert happy dance here)! And it's not like winter has been so unbearably difficult this year (it for sure hasn't), but for the first time in recent memory, we have had snow and consistently cold temperatures pretty much since Thanksgiving (that is pretty unusual for this area. Colorado , for a winter state, generally has it pretty good). So we are all kind over the winter thing...or so we thought. Then today happened.
Though signs of spring are sprouting up everywhere, a cold front came in, gray skies and wind in tow, wagging a finger and letting us know "not so fast" on this Spring thing. So on a day like today, when a brisk chill is in the air, I automatically go into soup mode. Today I thought I'd make a hearty soup chock full of veggies with some smoked Polish sausage thrown in for good measure, not to mention great flavor. I used kale in this recipe, but you can easily substitute fresh baby spinach if that is more to your liking. Bring it, winter- I can handle it!
Sausage and Bean Soup with Kale- serves 6-8 as a main course
1 lb. Smoked Polish Sausage, sliced lengthwise in half and cut cross-wise into 1/4 " half moons
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced fresh celery
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 -14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
2- 14.5 ounce cans of Great Northern or Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
8 cups chicken stock, purchased (low-sodium) or homemade
4 sprigs fresh thyme
small pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 cups, packed, thinly sliced Lacinto kale (center ribs removed)
Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon good quality red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1. In a 6-7 qt Dutch Oven or soup pot over medium heat, saute the sausage until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the sausage to paper towels to drain.
2. Immediately add 1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil to pot and stir in celery, carrots, garlic and onion. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.Cook, stirring often, until wilted and onion is translucent. Stir in thyme sprigs, crushed red pepper, if using, and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
3. To the pot add in chicken stock, 2 cups of water, tomatoes, bay leaf and beans. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, add in browned sausage and simmer 45 minutes longer, with the cover just slightly open.
4. After 45 minutes, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed to suit your taste. Stir in kale. Cover pot and let simmer another 15 minutes, until kale is wilted and tender.
5. Stir in red wine vinegar. Cook 1 more minute. Taste for seasoning one last time and adjust as needed. Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme stems. Ladle soup into bowls, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Mmm, Mmm good!