This is a really great soup. That being said many people have encountered it if they have ever eaten at an Olive Garden restaurant.
But this soup is really an Italian Peasant soup born of simple ingredients and yet culminating in a delicious end product that defines the term "greater than the sum of it's parts".
Now I have another dish which is actually where I first encountered this combination of flavors and that was a pasta dish made by my friend George. We would often go up to my friend Tony's house in the Pocono Mountains to have a little weekend get away. It was a treat as Tony was often off working somewhere and e would let me go up to use his house as a little get away.
George had been making this pasta dish for his partner Tom for years. It was one of Tom's favorite dishes. Sweet Italian sausage, kale, garlic, onions, red pepper flakes, a touch of cream plus a good dose of cheese all tossed with Orecchiette pasta, or "little ears".
Well this soup is virtually the same thing except it's a soup and not a sauce. Beans stand in for potatoes in my version and I use both chicken broth and chicken bullion to kick up the stock flavor. I also only use half and half to lighten up the soup a touch. Well just a touch.
This really is so easy and so good. And it's a perfect meal for the upcoming fall season with it's cooler days and even cooler nights. This Soup, a hunk of good Italian bread and a green salad and you have a meal on the table in one hour. So fix this for your family, your friends, or yourself but fix this you'll be so glad you did.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 Medium onion finely diced
2 carrots finely diced
3 celery stalks diced
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 pound sweet Italian Sausage
10 oz bag of fresh chopped kale ( including stems)
2 8 oz cans of white beans drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
3 chicken base envelopes ( trader joe's)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups half and half
1 cup grated parmesan
Heat oil and bacon grease in a heavy stock pot
Cook the onions, carrots and celery in the pot and add salt and pepper
When almost soft then add the garlic and allow to bloom about 2 minutes
Cook till soft then add the sausage taken out of the casings
Cook till browned then add the Kale in two batches allowing it to cook down fully till softened
Add the beans
Add the chicken stock, water and chicken base and red pepper flakes
Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, cook covered for 30 minutes
When ready to serve add the cheese and stir to melt
Then add the half and half and stir in
Let cook for about 5 minutes and serve
Place in a bowl and sprinkle with a little more grated parmesan cheese