It’s funny how within the span of a couple days, I run across the same recipe from different people. A week ago, I hadn’t considered making a hearty vegetable-heavy soup, and now I’ve had multiple people suggest it as a tasty and nutritionally packed meal. Tuscan sausage and kale soups are nothing new, I’ve enjoyed a less healthy variety at Olive Garden (minus the beans) for years. I was happy to re-make it into something with lots of veggies, and fiber and protein from silky navy beans. You could make this soup all vegetarian, but skipping the sausage wasn’t an option in this house. I wanted some of the fat and flavor to make this soup bowl-lick worthy. The recipe calls for a 1/2 pound of sausage, and I would normally brown a full pound of sausage, and reserve half for a breakfast scramble the next day. You could use a full pound of meat in this soup, but I like only a hint of sausage flavor, letting the vegetables shine.
I did find some interesting varieties of vegetables to use in this soup, and have made it a priority to buy “new” produce I’ve never used before. Last week it was fennel, this week it was dinosaur kale and white zucchini. Next week I have my eyes on the beets! Last note, I used the remaining kale, carrots, celery and fennel to make my favorite kale salad! On to the recipe..
- 1/2 lb ground sausage (turkey, pork or kielbasa even, Italian or Spicy)
- 3 ribs celery, 1/4 inch slices
- 3 carrots (12 mini carrots),1/4 inch slices
- 1/2 fennel bulb (optional, but highly recommended), 1/4 inch slices white and green parts
- 1 med zucchini (white or regular), 1/4 inch slices
- 1 yellow onion (optional), 1/4 inch slices
- 2 cups kale, chopped (about half a bunch of the dino kale, thick ribs removed)
- 14oz. can diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut lengthwise
- 4-5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
- 14 oz can navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbs. leftover pesto (store-bought or home-made, optional)
- olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper, Italian spices,
In a large heavy bottom soup pot, brown and crumble your meat of choice. I used 1/2 pound of ground pork, seasoned with Italian sausage, red pepper flakes and Tuscan herb mixture. Once nice and brown, drain on a paper towel.
Wipe out some of the excess fat and any burnt little bits from your pan, add a splash of olive oil over medium low heat. Add your celery, fennel, carrots, garlic, optional onions, and any Italian dried herbs like oregano or basil, and saute for about 8-10 minutes. Add zucchini and fry everything together for 2 more minutes.
Stir in your tomatoes, stock, a little water, drained beans, kale and pesto. If you don’t have pesto, it won’t kill the dish, just add some more of your favorite herbs. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until all the flavors meld and kale is nice and tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve in a big bowl.
You could serve over leftover grains, pasta, or along side nice piece of crusty bread. A sprinkle of Parmigiano cheese is a nice finish! I enjoyed this soup the day it was made, and even more the next couple of days. Enjoy!