Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

On Easter Monday, when I didn't have any classes, I prepared some soup for lunch with the intention of having it to eat all week. I am finding that preparing foods with the goal of having leftovers makes my weeks a lot easier. Also, I have a huge amount of homemade broth made from chicken and turkey bones that I really needed to use up. I have no room in my freezer for anything else! Normally I save poultry bones to make broth but I don't even have room to save them. Therefore, making some soup was in order! It happened to be a breezy day on Monday, so I opened the kitchen window while I prepared this soup, which made for a relaxing experience.

I had some Italian chicken sausage that I got on sale from Sprouts and they helped flavor the soup with very little effort on my part. I love kale, and because it's one of the most nutritionally-dense foods available, I chose to include it along with the standard mirepoix of celery, carrots, and onions. There are a lot of health benefits to consuming homemade bone broth compared to the stuff in a can, because homemade broth contains the nutrient extracts from the bones, including collagen, gelatin, and glucosamine, which are important to retain skin rigidity and joint health. Also, homemade bone broth may help folks with digestive issues.

I have actually made this soup a variety of times with different greens, but had yet to document the ingredient proportions! Kale is my favorite of all the green, but you can add any sturdy green you like. Spinach can be added as well, but only cook it 1-2 minutes. Of course, you can change the flavor of this by adding any sausage you like, such as smoked sausage or breakfast sausage. I have used poultry meat before, but find that it needs a lot more seasoning so sausage is an easier addition. This is a versatile's more of a method than a recipe, actually. I find it to be a soothing meal and a good replacement for chicken noodle soup.

Italian Sausage and Kale Soup
Printable Recipe

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large stalk of celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage (about 4-5 links; I used chicken Italian sausage), casings removed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 qts. broth---choose one that corresponds with the meat of your Italian sausage (I used my homemade turkey-chicken bone broth)
1 bunch kale (about 4 cups chopped kale; can substitute another sturdy green, like collards or Swiss chard...chop the chard stems and add them with the onions, carrots, and celery)

1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until the onions are translucent. Stir in the garlic about 1 minute, being careful not to burn it, then add the sausage in. Crumbled the sausage with a spoon and cook all the way through.
2. Stir the tomato paste into the cooked vegetable and sausage mixture; season with basil and pepper.
3. Add the broth and simmer for about 15 minutes over medium to medium-high heat, to allow the flavors to blend.
4. Wash the kale and remove the tough stems. Chop the leaves up and add them to the simmering broth. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, add the kale, then reduce to simmer. Cook until the kale wilts and becomes tender, about 4-5 minutes.

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