Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kale Chowder with Sausage and Cannellini Beans

This hearty soup, loosely based on Portugal’s Caldo Verde, is so delicious, you won’t believe it’s good for you. Kale is the star here, puréed to form a colorful base for cannellini beans and Italian sausage baked in red wine. I've made a vegetarian/vegan version omitting the sausage and substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Scrumptious either way, and leftover soup, should you have any, freezes well.

1½ lbs. Italian sausage (5-6 sausages)
½ cup dry red wine
¼ cup olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch kale or Swiss chard
2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prick sausages several times with sharp knife or fork. Place in a single layer in a baking pan just big enough to hold them and bake for 15 minutes. Turn and bake another 15 minutes. Drain fat and add red wine to pan. Turn sausage and bake another 15 minutes. Turn again and bake 15 minutes more. (Total baking time 1 hour.) Remove the sausages to a dish lined with paper towels and let cool.

2. Warm the broth in a sauce pan. Heat olive oil in a 6-8 quart soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and 1 tsp. salt. Cook 2 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

3. Remove thick stems from greens. Wash greens, roughly chop, and add to soup pot. Cover and simmer another 45 minutes, until greens are tender.

4. Purée soup in batches in blender (or use an immersion blender) and return to pot. Stir in beans. Slice sausages into rings and add to pot. Simmer soup 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serves 8.

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