Hi there and Happy Friday! We are up to our elbows in soups and stews over here warming our spoiled southern souls as it dips below 40 degrees. As much as I truly love the holiday season, I really enjoy this part of winter. The shopping, the parties and the hustle and bustle are over. The decorations are packed away and we’ve snuggled into a routine of lazy evenings cozied up to a fire, serving bowls of heart warming, soul satisfying, simmered-all-day goodness. Today’s recipe was inspired by one such bowl I had the pleasure of enjoying this past weekend. A Tuscan-Style White Bean, Sausage and Kale soup that was so amazing, I went back for seconds (and thirds-don’t judge). And it’s good for you! With veggies, beans and potatoes this soup eats like a meal AND it doesn’t wreck your New Year resolutions. (Are we still sticking to those……? Eh.)
It was COLD when we arrived at our friends’ ranch this past weekend. But when we blew in, there was a fire blazing in the giant hearth and some kind of amazing wafting from the kitchen. I followed my nose to a giant pot of hearty, simmering deliciousness. Carrots, potatoes, onion, italian sausage, garlic and with a perfect amount of spice from a generous hit of toasted red pepper flake, it was wintertime perfection wrapped up in a dutch oven.
This deliciousness was inspired by a recipe from Shared Appetite. (You really should wander over to this guys blog-he’s doing some seriously yummy stuff). My soup-queen friend had the genius idea to toast the red pepper flakes to add a serious spice kick and add a squeeze of lemon for serving to brighten all these flavors. My version adds a few extra flavor boosters- shallot, a fennel bulb, a few thyme sprigs and hits of both dry white wine and cooking sherry. I also double up on the garlic. If you have learned nothing else about me by now – it should be this. 1. There is no such thing as too much garlic and 2. If there is ever an opportunity to add booze to food….
I also prefer to use red potatoes in soups and stews. They tend to hold their shape better over time rather than disintegrating into your stew.
As previously discussed, I have a large freezer full of venison, including Italian Venison Sausage, so that’s what I use. If you don’t happen to have a freezer full, just use regular Italian sausage. But if you are a hunter or are married to one- call your processor quick and tell them you want some of that venison made into Italian sausage- it is absolutely fantastic in soups.
Looking for a vegetarian option? Just swap the sausage for more veggies and beans and the chicken stock for veggie stock. And this bowl of awesome is completely gluten free if you leave off the crostinis.
As always, thank you so much for being here! We hope are finding a new thing or two to share at your own table. Be sure and enter your email in the box at the top right to get new recipes delivered to your in-box each week. Happy Cooking!
-Alan & Amanda