Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kale and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage

Kale and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage  

     Over the past few weeks, I have been stocking the freezer with make ahead dinners.  We call it "laying - in."  It sounds strange, I know, but once school and activities start next week, the last thing that we want to worry about is the answer to this question, "What's for dinner?"  So for the past month or so, once a week I make a meal to freeze.  Here is an easy method to get the most room out of your freezer:  If the dish is a soup, stew or sauce once it has cooled, pack it in gallon freezer ziplocc bags.  Get as much air out of the bag as possible and then lay flat on a cookie sheet.  Most of the dishes that I make will feed us for two to three meals so I will have two to three freezer bags, which will lay on top of each other on a cookie sheet.  Then, I put it in the freezer until frozen. Now they are stackable and take up less room. Don't forget to write on the bag so you know the date you made the dish and the name of the dish.  On the morning of the day you are serving, take a bag out of the freezer and let it defrost in the refrigerator.  When you get home, you will have dinner in no time!
     With this week's shipment of kale, carrots and onions and knowing that I had a package of Italian sausage in the freezer and a bag of white beans in the pantry, coming up with this dish was easy.  It may be a bit hearty for this time of year but I bet in a few weeks, it will suit us just fine as Fall rolls in and this soup tastes better the next day anyway.

Kale and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage


1 lb dried white beans (I used Great Northern but you can use cannelloni or navy)
1 lb mild Italian Sausage 
2 onions, coarsely chopped (I used one red and one yellow)
4 to 5 carrots, sliced
1 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and the leaves coarsely chopped
2T olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1 quart water
1 piece of Parmigiano Reggiano rind  (Do NOT opt out of this.  Just cut off a slab of the rind.  Trust will add great flavor)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano

1.  Rinse the beans in a colander for a minute or so.  Then place in a pot, cover with water, place the top back on and leave to soak overnight.  The next day, drain and rinse again.
2.  Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over moderately low heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the broth, beans, salt, pepper, bay leaf, oregano and cheese rind and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.
3.  While the soup is simmering, cook the Italian sausage.  I had sausage links but you could use bulk sausage.  I took the casings off the links, portioned pieces off with a spoon and rolled into small meatballs.  In two batches, I cooked them, saving any of the pan drippings.
4.  Once the beans are tender, add the carrots and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the kale and sausage.  Add 1/2 quart to 1 quart of water if needed.  Cook, uncovered and stirring from time to time for 15-20 minutes until the kale is tender.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serving suggestions:
I think some grated Parmesan would be nice addition to each bowl along with garlic bread or toasts.  Perhaps adding some small tortellini when reheating the soup would also be nice.

Beautiful View of the city from PNC Park!

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