Sausage Kale and White Bean Soup
Ugh, Winter 🥶
The cold weather makes me crave warm, hearty, comforting soups. I am talking almost everyday. As a bonus, I find soup incredibly easy to make and there are so many varieties to make and keep your cooking adventures exciting. This particular pick is a very meaty and savory soup filled with, you guessed it, Sausage and Kale and white beans! I take delight in finally sharing this yummy concoction 😊
Ingredients: roughly a pound of italian sausage, one onion (white or yellow are both good), one big bunch of Kale, 3+ cloves of garlic (I used 6!!!), one can of white beans (whatever you have handy–navy beans/cannellini beans/pinto beans/great northern beans allllll work!), one quart of store bought chicken broth, about 1/2 cup half and half, and shredded parmesan cheese to finish :).
The sausage is nothing fancy. I picked up a 5 pack of mild italian sausage links from my local supermarket and take them out of the casing myself. Personally, I choose to buy the links over the bulk sausage for the simply selfish reason the links are an 18 ounce package and the bulk is a 16 ounce package for the exact same price. Taking the sausages out of the casing is so easy too! All you need to do is carefully score the sausage casing end to end and pull it away from the meat (see my example about 35 seconds into the above video).
If you want a bit of extra heat then maybe the hot italian sausages will be your pick! Or you can add a pinch (or three) of red pepper flakes 🙂 Simple swaps will make this recipe your own in no time!
Mise en place is a necessity for all recipes. Preparing all the ingredients before you start cooking and the cooking will be much easier overall because all of your ingredients are ready ahead of time! I have a tendency to prep/chop ingredients in the order they will be used. I think subconsciously it helps me prepare the recipe in my head and practice the steps before I start.
Onions and garlic are two STAPLES in my house. I LOVE THEM and always have more than I need on hand.
Part of the simplicity of this recipe is the lack of needing to measure anything! I use a whole onion and give it a rough chop. In my opinion cooking for soup does not require absolute perfection when dicing veggies, especially when it comes to onions because the many layers will naturally separate themselves during the cook.
Garlic is a place where I like to use one of my cheater/unitaskers hand tools. I think I have the worlds best garlic press. I have had it for six years and have rarely gone more than a week without using it but it still looks brand new! In terms of how much garlic to use–you do you! As you can tell, I happen to immensely enjoy what garlic adds and I typically use 5-6 big cloves in a soup! YUM! As long as you have it around, I would recommend you use at a minimum of three cloves/three teaspoons.
Now for the elephant in the room. I know many people have a strong dislike of kale and my guess is it stems from a bad experience of overcooked bitter green. My favorite kale is Dino Kale. The leaves are super big and much less curly (and therefore easy to clean) than most of the standard green or red kale from the supermarket. A really great tip to clean the kale (and just about all other veggies) is to mix roughly 1/2 cup of vinegar and half a sink full of water in your just cleaned kitchen sink and let them soak–the dirt will separate and sink to the bottom of your sink! Easy Peasy!
Quick note: I choose to remove the stems in this recipe for quicker cooking and use them later in juice and or compost, but removing the stems is not 100% necessary.
Why I felt the need to ‘prep the beans’ on video (AKA using a can opener) I will never know. But when my sweetie gave me back the video edit and I saw that moment I laughed at myself until I cried. LITERALLY. Like I had to stop the video and go back because I was so distracted by myself!
Anyway, back to cooking!
I start by browning/frying the sausage first and doing the spatula thing to crumble the meat as it cooks. If there is a name for this, please tell me in the comments 😆 I like to get as much color on the sausage (without burning) as I can before I pull it out to cook the onions.
This next bit might gross some people out, but I really don’t think it should. I cook the onions and garlic in the rendered sausage fat in the same pot. The way I see it, instead of spending more to swap the natural rendered pork fat out for olive oil or avocado oil, I can keep the cooked pork fat (and flavor) while saving myself both a few cents worth of oil and a few minutes of time cleaning an extra dish!
Next: simplicity! Add the broth, beans, and cooked sausage, stir, and let everything warm up together and share the flavors each ingredient brings to the pot.
While this happens, I take a few moments to shred my own cheese. You do you–if pre-shredded cheese saves you time or you already have it in the fridge, by all means, use that! I have a tendency to buy my parmesan on sale and keep a block (or three) in the freezer.
Now trust me with the kale. Once the soup is throughly warmed thru (no need to get this to a roaring boil) you can add the kale. It is voluminous at first and will look like WAAAAY too much when you first add it to the broth. BUT, you wouldn’t have made it this far into the recipe if you didn’t trust me at least a little! The Kale will cook down, just like spinach! You can help the process along by gently stiring/folding/mixing it into the broth. With the heat on low I let the kale sofen into the soup for about five minutes.
Lastly and JUST before serving is when I add the splash of half and half. I guestimate myself to use about half a cup worth but in all honesty I have never measured this. I give the soup a quick stir, taste, and turn the heat off.
The soup is ready to dish up and top with a sprinkle of cheese!
Another recipe note–you may have noticed (or not) that at no point have I salted or peppered anything yet. This is on purpose! Salt is semi naturally in the ingredients already–the sausage is wells seasoned to begin with, the broth is a canned (salt added) item, as are the beans, and the parmesan cheese topper is a slightly salty cheese. So, in my opinion this soup does not need more salt!
- 1 pack Italian sausage (bulk or links with casing removed)
- 1 diced onion (white or yellow)
- 3+ cloves diced garlic (I used 6)
- 1 big bunch Kale (I used Dino Kale)
- 1 can white beans (use whatever variety you have handy–navy beans/cannellini beans/pinto beans/great northern beans allllll work)
- 1 Quart store bought chicken broth
- ~1/2 cup half and half
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Mise En Place–clean/prep all ingredients
- Brown sausage and leave rendered pork fat in the pot
- Cook/soften onions in said rendered pork fat, add garlic after onions are softened
- Once you can smell the garlic (about 30-6- ish seconds after adding) you can add the chicken broth, canned beans, and return the sausage to the mix. Warm throughout–boiling is not necessary.
- (Optional) Shred cheese if using a block of parmesan
- Add kale ribbons and gently mix/stir/fold into the soup. Allow to soften/cook for fiveish minutes on a low heat
- Add half and half, stir to incorporate, turn off heat
- Dish up, top with parmesan, and…