freshkale

I planted Kale for the first time this year. I’d heard good things about how rich in nutrients it was and since I make green salads quite frequently, I decided to give it a try. Upon tasting it raw in a salad, I quickly determined never to plant it again. I even blogged about preferring to eat other salad greens rather than trying to disguise the kale’s bitter taste with other vegetables and dressings. My friend from college, Jenni, promised her soup with kale really was good. I trust Jenni so when she posted her recipe in the comments section on my blog, I had to give it a try.

This is the way kale should be eaten. Not one iota of bitterness remained. My family loves this soup. My son told my husband, “It’s good Dad. It’s apicy hot.”

“That’s the way soup should be,” my husband responded.

So let’s get started. You’ll need 1 pound Italian ground sausage, browned and drained.

slicedpotatoesScrub, quarter, and cut 8-10 medium potatoes into 1/4-inch slices (no need to peel!).

brothYou’ll need 3 quarts of good quality chicken broth (homemade is best). I read the note about homemade being best and decided to cook chicken for Sunday dinner and save the broth for Monday night when I planned to make this soup. Sunday morning I placed the thawed fryer in the slower cooker and thought, “Barbeque chicken sounds good.” Then I slathered the chicken with barbeque sauce and turned the slow cooker on. Five hours later I remembered I was supposed to make chicken broth. Thus the canned broth. And now you know that it tastes good with canned broth, too.

Jenni also included slow cooker instructions. You should begin to sense a pattern here. I love my slow cooker so of course I used those directions. It also helped that I was running around all afternoon picking up and depositing children at various soccer practices around town. Dinner had to cook itself because I wasn’t home to do it.

Now combine the browned sausage, broth, potatoes,  1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes in the slow cooker. Cook on high power for about five hours. The last half hour of cooking–you know while the children are bathing–chop enough kale to equal 4 cups.

choppedkaleThis little chopping tool is one of the handiest kitchen gadgets, but a sharp knife will yield the same results.

kaleAdd 4 cups chopped kale to the slow cooker.

addkaleStir to combine, cover, and cook half an hour more.

creamStir in 1/2 cup heavy cream just before serving.

doneI hope you like it as much as we did. Thanks Jenni–this one’s a keeper. I may even plant kale again next year. You can garnish with crisp bacon pieces if desired. (We’re out of bacon for a couple of months and I didn’t desire to buy any.)

serveEnjoy!

Jenni’s Zuppa Toscana
Serves about 10

1 pound Italian ground sausage
3 quarts good quality chicken broth (homemade is best)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8-10 medium potatoes — scrubbed, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch slices (no need to peel!)
4 cups chopped kale or spinach (I’m trying 10 oz. of frozen chopped spinach today 12/17/09)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Bacon, cooked crisp for garnish (optional)

Brown sausage and drain well.

Combine broth and cream over medium heat. Add vegetables, sausage, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add bacon pieces just before serving.

I often make it in a slow cooker with these adaptations: Combine browned sausage, broth, potatoes and seasonings. Cook on high power for about five hours. Add kale for last half hour of cooking. Stir in cream just before serving.

Spinach may be substituted for kale.

This is a very versatile recipe. Keeping the broth and cream ratio the same, you can play with the quantities of the other ingredients all you want.

11 Response Comments

  • Jennfer  September 15, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Oh, I’m so honored. I wish it were an original recipe but alas! Aside from the my slow cooker adaptations, I got the recipe elsewhere. It’s very similar to an Olive Garden soup.

    I’m glad you like it! Isn’t it easy?

  • Cooker  February 9, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I’ve been looking for this recipe and NOW I HAVE FOUND IT! Yipee. Can hardly wait to give it a whirl. Can you keep this link on your home page for a while. Just until I get a chance to try it or do I have to save this somewhere?

  • No worries  February 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Got it saved. Now I can click in here and make this soup and be happy. You don’t need to keep it on the home page if that’s a bother. I’ve got it in my favorites.

    How’s the writing coming along? Well.

    And…do your kids actually play soccer? I am A HUGE soccer person. If you only knew. Traveled the world with that silly game.

  • Kate  February 9, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Glad to be of help. This is one of my family’s favorite soups now.

    The writing is going slowly. I’m a little over-involved in some community things at the moment.

    Yes my children play soccer. It’s our one family obsession outside of the farm. Soccer season is insane around here.

    One year when I had a four month old baby, I coached a team, my husband coached a team and we had three children on teams. We’ve never approached that level of chaos again. I don’t coach anymore.

    Though we’re not as heavily involved and immersed in the soccer world as you, we still love it.

  • The Farm...  February 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I am fascinated about your farm. What sort of farm is it? Some land, a few animals, and enough to support family needs? Or is it a “retail farm” meaning do you sell what you produce?

    How many acres?

    What do you grow?

    Any milking cows?

    Chickens?

    Do you produce any meat like beef or chicken or FISH? Ha. There are fish farms you know?

    If I can ask, did you buy the land or did you inherit the land?

    What was the cost per acre (you don’t have to answer that)?

    Is the farm self-sustaining, meaning do you get OUT OF IT more than you PUT INTO IT…by that I mean financially is it worth the money it takes to operate the farm?

    I am intrigued. I really want to buy a farm and grow my own stuff FOR SELF PREPAREDNESS reasons more than any other reason.

    Just wondering…

  • Nate  February 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Kate asked me (her husband) to answer some of these questions:

    My parents moved here in the early 70s from the city. They wanted to raise their 10 children on the ranch where they could teach them to work. They purchased 556 acres. Only about 150 is farmable, the rest is sagebrush and juniper trees. About 6 years ago Kate and I moved here with some of the same expectations in regard to raising our children. We purchased some land adjacent to the family ranch and built our house. We don’t distinguish the difference between our own acreage (about 6) and that of the family ranch (which is now 700 acres).

    The ranch has never been truly self-sustaining. We raise cattle for commercial purposes. Recently we’ve begun selling beef directly to the consumer (www.pleasantvalleybeef.com). We raise alfalfa, barley, and other feed crops. We (my father, brothers, brothers-in-law, and I) have regular jobs and our families work together on the ranch during evening and weekends. So the ranch pays for it’s own expenses, but none of us will ever receive any financial benefit.

    We have horses, chickens and a milk cow (no fish) on our personal acreage. (And pigs seasonally.)

    But it is self-sustainging in that it gives a place for our children to learn to work and take responsibility for the successes of the ranch. We have a large vegetable garden and have just planted what is hoped to be a good orchard. Plus we have all the milk and eggs we need. The children have a place to run and play. They learn many valuable lessons of life from the constant birth, death and risk that is experienced living around animals.

  • Hi Nate  February 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Thanks A BUNCH for the feedback. So it sounds like your day job keeps the money flowing in, allowed you to purchase additional land, build a home, and take care of many expenses while the farm keeps food costs down and allows your children to LEARN THE LESSONS OF WORK, THRIFT, COOPERATION, etc.?

    Am I right?

    And, do you forsee a time when you will quit your day job, once the big expenses of paying off any debt incurred on land or your home is paid for and then allow your bee sales to take care of any needs?

    I think this is wonderful. Especially given the current END OF DAYS sort of world we live in where monstrous national debts may bring down our economy. You have a safety net of family, land, farm, garden, etc. Is that a comfort to you and your family?

    I would bet that the stability that comes from owning your own land, farming it, being, to some degree, self sustaining, is a huge comfort in these days.

    Lastly, your wife says you are a soccer coach. Well done! Me too. In fact, that is what I have done, professionally, for a good share of my life.

    And another lastly, do you mind letting me know which region of the US you have your farm. Is it in a wintery setting or in an area that is warm year round? Is irrigation an issue or are you in a more humid/wet climate? How much does irrigation play a role in your crop raising and your gardens?

    Thanks for answering all my questions. More than anything, it give me a little understanding and some hope that I could possibly pull something off like you. My only drawback? I don’t have ten siblings and brother’s in law to carry some of the load. Darn it!

  • Nate  February 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I would love to farm full-time, but alas, I don’t foresee that happening until I am of retirement age. However, you are correct that the benefit we receive is the peace of mind that if things got really bad, assuming we can make debt payments, we’ll always have a place that could provide survival. Also the benefit of being part of a large family is that each of us is skilled in different professions when combined there isn’t much we need outside of the family.

    We are located in Mt. Pleasant, UT, about an hour south of Provo on Highway 89. We are very dependent on the winter snowfall and are plagued with drought conditions every summer. If it wasn’t for a very efficient irrigation system, we would not be able produce enough to continue on the ranch. We have a very short growing season. So we farm and garden very intensely for about 4 months of the year.

    While growing up, I never had the chance to learn to play soccer. I was left to play football and basketball, but I was never big enough to excel in those sports. It was not until my mission to South America that I gained a love for the game. Our area is lacking in any kind of adult soccer league. So I play basketball and racquetball and make sure my kids learn and enjoy the game of soccer (or futbol, as I continue to call it).

    If you are ever in the area, we’d enjoy showing you around.

  • Wow...  February 12, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Thanks again for all the feedback. I envy your farm. Are there any farms for sale in your neighborhood? 🙂

    I may take you up on the tour offer. I’d love to get a feel for your operation and what it would take to get into part-time farming…

    Do they actually have a youth soccer league in Mt. Pleasant? Really?

  • Nate  February 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

    We could really use a good high school soccer coach here.

  • Shandrae  July 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I added mushrooms and it tasted great! Thanks for the recipe, I love it. And it’s so EASY! That’s almost the best part!