When Titus was a newborn, a good friend brought us a couple of awesome suppers, and this soup was one of them. Hearty, spicy, rich but balanced by the healthy kale, it was happily devoured by all of us, and shortly thereafter I took to the internet in search of a recipe. When I made it myself and it was a hit, I knew we had a keeper. It has been enjoyed many times since, which is saying something because if you talk to Sam you’ll learn that much to his frustration, I don’t often make the same dish twice, even if it’s good. He’s made sure this one has made it onto the “Sam’s Favorite Meals” list.
So, at church when it was announced that the annual Reformation Day Party would include a Soup/Chili Contest, it was kind of a no-brainer. I’m pretty sure I leaned over right there in the pew and whispered to Sam, “Sausage Potato Kale?” “Yes.” We were sure we had this one in the bag, but guess who beat us out for Best Soup? My mom.
I kid, of course, I kid. To me, all the soups were winners, and I should know, I think I tried about nine of them. Pumpkin, bacon, beans, chicken, potato, leek, squash–moderately small portions, mind you!–but yes, always a lover of variety (some might say chronically indecisive), I did have a taste of almost everything. It was wonderful.
Equally wonderful was seeing my boys have fun playing in the leaves. Some of the young ladies made a huge pile of leaves and they all had fun jumping in it. How sweet is that? I love my church family.
A friend asked me at the party what else I do with kale. We love it. This soup is probably our favorite way to eat it. There’s another kale soup that I’ve written about, Kale, Bean, and Noodle Soup. I’ve also made kale with spicy tomatoes and beans, braised collard greens (a recipe in which kale and collards are basically interchangeable), Bruised Kale Salad (use a nice, delicate kale, but don’t bruise it as heavily), kale with pasta, and most recently, Kale Chips. William likes to crumble them over everything. Mainly I think he just likes to crumble them. I caught him with a handful of the light, crispy flakes just as he was blowing them–poof!–into a shower of kale confetti. But if you’re looking for a recipe that is sure to please, this soup is the way to go. It’s delicious.
I just got another request for the recipe, so without further ado: Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup.
Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
- 2 bunches of kale*
- 12-15 small to medium potatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 to 1-1/2 pounds Italian sausage (different brands vary in heat and saltiness, I used Hy-Vee brand bulk Italian sausage)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- To prepare the kale, tear the leafy parts from the stems in bite-size pieces. (Keep in mind you’ll want to pick them up with a spoon with a little potato and a little sausage too, to help you gauge the size of your bites. Can you tell I’ve made them too big before?) Put the kale in a colander or salad spinner as you go. Discard stems.
- Rinse the kale well. I use my salad spinner: fill it up with water and swish the kale around. Give it a bit of time to let any dirt settle (I might slice or prep some other ingredients while I wait), then lift out the insert and dump out the water. Spin dry, or just shake as with a colander. You don’t need to get it super dry as you’re just going to be putting it in a pot of liquid in a bit, but you don’t want it dripping so much it waters down the soup.
- Slice potatoes about 1/4 inch thick, halve any large discs. Put potatoes in a medium pot, add water to cover, bring it to a boil and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain.
- Alternately, you can cook the potatoes in the microwave. Do not slice, but place whole, dry potatoes on a shallow microwave-safe baking dish or plate. Microwave on high, turning potatoes every 3 minutes, until skewer can be inserted with little resistance, 9 to 12 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before slicing as directed.
- In a large pot, brown sausage and onions on medium-high heat. Drain off fat. Add broth, cream, milk, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a low simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes. Try not to let it boil, but if it does and your milk curdles, don’t despair! I did that at least three times and was surprised to find when I added the potatoes that it seemed to be fixed!**
- Stir in potatoes, then kale, slowly to give it a little time to wilt and reduce in volume. Stir gently and simmer until kale is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (I usually add quite a bit more salt and pepper.)
*That’s 2 supermarket bunches, which seem to be pretty standard in size, as opposed to farmer’s market bunches, which can be quite generous. If you have one of those giant bunches, you’ll need only one, maybe even half of one bunch. (You can use what’s leftover to make Kale Chips!) For this recipe, I usually have about a colander/salad spinner full of kale when it’s all torn up. I know, that still seems like a lot, but it does cook down. The time I took these pictures, I overdid it with one of the huge bunches from the farmer’s market. It wasn’t horrible, just extra kale-y.
**I don’t know why I’ve never tried cooking the potatoes in the soup; it would certainly simplify the recipe. It might be worth testing, as would upping the cream-to-milk ratio. Both starch and fat help keep proteins from bonding. I don’t know if it un-bonds them after the fact, all I know is I couldn’t tell it had curdled after I added the potatoes. Good news though: it tastes great either way!