A good meal on a chilly day is one of the great pleasures of life – especially when that meal is a steaming bowl of soup rich with vegetables and a loaf of hot fresh-out-of the oven crusty bread. This may be simple food, but it’s a true feast that feeds the soul. We’ve been experiencing a rare week of cloudy cold and rainy weather (hooray! rain in California!). There’s just something so cozy about being indoors when it’s so dreary outside. Yes, I realize it’s nothing compared to rain in other parts of the country, but please understand – for Californians rain is so novel we run outside to stare at the water falling from the sky with our mouths wide open, or we don’t actually own/remember to bring umbrellas with us as we scurry for shelter. (Winter coats aren’t really a thing here either.) We’re objectively cold and shivering by the time we get back inside and could use some warming up.
Simply Mi has been experimenting with baking bread recently and I can do nothing but support this hobby with all my greedy little carb-loving heart. We haven’t been able to get together for a while now so it was a treat to see her! She brought over dough and dutch ovens, and made three loaves of bread that afternoon. Do you remember the scene in Ratatouille where Collete says you know it’s good bread by the sound? I kid you not, the symphony of crackle was amazing when these loaves came out of the oven. I henceforth dub Simply Mi the bread whisperer – crackly crust, delicious spongy interior. Simply Mi used this recipe from Simply So Good, which I believe is a version of the New York Times recipe that started the whole no-knead bread revolution. The instructions on this blog are extremely clear so if you want to have a go at it, this would be a a great place to start.
We have this gigantic kale in the backyard that frankly I’ve been avoiding. A season or two ago kale was hot new superfood and I overloaded on kale salads and chips and kale everything else. It’s a great vegetable, but a girl can have too much…then look guilty out the window at that kale plant that really needs to be harvested before it’s time to pull it out of the ground.
However, I still enjoy this version of kale, bean, and sausage soup; the sausage balances out the kale flavor so the neither overpowers the rest of the soup. I usually cook by proportion rather than exact measurement but this combination has worked well for me and because it’s quite basic you can definitely experiment with adding your own touches to make it your next go to winter soup. Garnish it with fresh herbs, add in any vegetables you have in the fridge, drizzle some olive oil on top…what are the variations you enjoy?
Kale and Sausage Bean Soup
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water
½ chopped onion
1 ½ cup beans, cooked* (white beans are traditional but you can use any kind you like)
3 Italian sausages
1 bunch of kale
* it’s helpful to remember to soak your beans beforehand, which I did not – I pressure cooked a cup or so to quickly have them ready. Otherwise, a standard 15 oz can of beans works great.
- Combine chicken broth, water, and ½ onion a set to simmering.
- While it’s simmering, remove the ribs of the kale and either discard or save for a vegetable broth. Roughly chop the kale leaves and slice the carrots into rounds.
- I like to pre-cook my sausage so some of the grease is cooked out – it makes for a lighter and less overpowering soup. You can steam the sausage or cut the sausage into small pieces and brown in a pan.
- Add the sausage and beans and bring to medium heat. Allow to cook until the beans are tender (15-30 mins depending on the state of your beans when you started. You may only have to reheat the beans if you were smart and soaked/cooked your beans beforehand.)
- Add the carrots and kale only in the last 10 minutes of cooking. This will keep the vegetables from getting entirely overcooked or too mushy.
- Salt to taste, then ladle into bowls and enjoy piping hot with some fresh ground pepper.