Mediterranean Kale & White Bean Soup with Sausage

I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found on www.Food.com, which was originally published in Fine Cooking Magazine’s Feb/March 2008 issue. This was my first attempt at making a soup with greens in it, and it turned out wonderfully. In fact, this soup was so good that I made it twice within a week, and so did Jane! Not only is this recipe a tasty one, but it’s quick and easy to prepare, hearty, healthy, and offers endless variations. It also makes a lot of soup, so it’s a great thing to make on a Sunday and take as lunch all week! Shopping list: 1 lb. mild Italian sausage (pork, turkey, chicken…), ground 2 TB. Olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, cut into a small dice ½ of a leek stalk, cut in half lengthwise then sliced in ¼" wide pieces 2 medium carrots, cut into a small dice 2 celery ribs, cut into a small dice 5 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced 1/8-1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes* 1/8-1/4 tsp. of fennel seed* ½ tsp. salt* ¼ tsp. ground pepper* 10 c. (ish) low sodium chicken broth 3 cups cannellini beans ¾-1lb kale, rinsed, stems removed, leaves torn into bite size pieces parmesan cheese

*I have never measured spices while cooking, probably because my parents never measured them either. So I am not exactly sure that these measurements align with me shaking the spice bottles until it looked about right. Please feel free to alter the measurements to suit your own tastes!

What & how to do it:

Step #1: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 4 or 5-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, working to break into bite-sized pieces, then add fennel and red pepper to sausage while it browns. Cook the meat until well cooked through and golden, 5-8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl, leaving as much rendered fat in the pot as you can.

Step #2: Add the remaining olive oil to the pot, increase heat to medium-high, and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2-3 minutes.

Step #3: Add the carrot, celery and leek, as well as a splash of stock to de-glaze, and stir frequently for about 4 minutes more.

Step#4: Stir in garlic, salt and black pepper and cook for another minute or 2, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

Step #5: When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium, add the sausage along with its juices, and HALF of the beans.

Step #6: Mash the remaining beans with a fork or wooden spoon and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute.

Step #7: Stir in the kale, making sure to add just as much as fits in comfortably with all of the other ingredients. I didn’t add the full pound because I wanted the soup to be a little brothier and not overpowered by kale. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the kale is tender, about 20 minutes. Cover the pot either fully or loosely, to prevent too much broth reduction.

Step #8: Serve with or without Parmesan (or pecorino) cheese and enjoy! Cleo Zancope www.JaneTaylor.com