Food Friday: Mediterranean Kale & White Bean Soup with Sausage

Soup, soup, soup! As I write this it is rainy and cold outside so a warm soup is the perfect companion. This is one of my favourite soups and was found in Fine Cooking Magazine in 2008 by my mom. This soup is so easy to prepare, low in carbohydrates, higher in protein and full of nutrients. A bowl of this soup also quenches the desire for a little spice, and you can adjust this to your liking.

For those who find kale a little too rough for your liking, which is the case when eaten raw, this is a great recipe to try. Steaming or simmering kale softens it, making it easier on your digestion, but still providing you with all the beneficial nutrients. Kale is a great source of fiber, helping with constipation and high cholesterol. It is also high in many vitamins and act as an antioxidant. Aim to include cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, to your diet 4-5 times per week, in soups, salads, smoothies etc.

As for the sausage, be sure to buy good quality meat. You typically need to eat less of it if it is good quality. I buy mine from either the farmers markets, a good butcher or Pete’s. The spicier the better in this soup for me.

With more colds and flus going around this winter, the amount of garlic and onion in this soup helps to stimulate the immune system. Drinking ginger tea or supplementing with vitamin C and/or D can go a long way as well.

Without further ado…the recipe.

Mediterranean Kale & White Bean Soup with Sausage

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. sweet or spicy Italian sausage (about 3 links, turkey or pork)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • One-half small yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into small dice
  • 1 rib celery, cut into small dice
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 lb. 3 oz. can cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked dried beans
  • 1 lb. kale, rinsed, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups firmly packed)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Recipe:

Remove the sausage from its casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces.  Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a 4 or 5 quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high, and add the onion.  Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.  Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and brown, about 2 minutes more.  Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute more.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium, add the sausage along with any collected juices, and half the beans.  Mash the remaining beans with a fork or wooden spoon and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute.  Stir in the kale, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

NOTE: You can add more sausage and broth to your liking. Best made ahead and reheated – hence a great lunch!

Enjoy!

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen