Kale is referred to as a ‘superfood’ these days. I’ve always thought it was super and have been adding it to soups for as long as I can remember.
This is my version of a classic Tuscan recipe – drop dead easy to make and highly nutritious; perfect for one of those lingering wintery days when spring is hovering and can’t make its mind up whether to appear or not.
It calls for Tuscan kale, aka ‘Dinosaur kale’ which is widely available but use any kale you prefer. I found a huge bag of organic baby kale in Costco the other day and it ended up in this soup, baby stalks and all…along with an interesting pre-cooked organic Italian chicken sausage, made by Open Nature and available in good supermarkets. I couldn’t find a classic Italian pork sausage anywhere so this had to make do and it was very good.
Soaking and cooking your own cannellini beans yields a tastier result but I realize many of you are too busy for all that, so by all means open a can of cooked beans but rinse them thoroughly under cold water first to remove any excess salt and starch.
The Parmigiano Reggiano rind is optional and makes a wonderful chewy treat for the lucky person who finds it in their bowl. I always save the rinds and freeze them for when I want to add an extra ‘oomph’ to soups.
You might want to buy some extra kale and make a salad or perhaps some light, airy, more-ish oven baked kale crisps – an example of how something really healthy can taste exceptionally good and they’ll be gobbled down as soon as you pull them out of the oven.
Finally, I hope you’ll read my local restaurant reviews (links on the right) in the event you ever visit Aspen, if you haven’t already; this part of Colorado is worthy of the most discerning ‘bucket list’…
TUSCAN KALE & WHITE BEAN SOUP with SAUSAGE
2 Italian sausages (any kind), skinned and crumbled
4 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
2 quarts (2.27litres) of organic chicken stock
1 cup (240ml) of dry white wine
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 good-sized bunch of kale – stalks discarded, leaves washed and chopped
4 cups (960ml measure) of cooked cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Optional – one or two Parmigiano Reggiano rinds
Heat the olive oil in a large wide pan with a lid and sauté the sausage until browned; lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic over a low heat until soft, then add the thyme and white wine. Bring to a rapid simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated – add the cheese rind (if using).
Add the chicken stock and kale; bring it to a boil then cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes.
Add the beans and cooked sausage – bring everything back to a simmer, cover and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Serve with hot crusty bread and plenty of freshly-ground black pepper.
(Adapted from a Frances Mayes recipe)