Bellissimo Zuppa

Over-the-top delicious! This hearty Tuscan Sausage, Cannellini and Kale Soup is full of dynamite flavor—most of it from healthy ingredients. The crinkly, deep-green leaves of Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or black kale) are ideal, but any variety of kale will work.

No surprise I’m sure that we used the hot Italian sausage as opposed to the sweet. Of course, we almost always increase the amount of garlic in any recipe, so this one was no exception. And as I always preach, using store-bought broth or stock is fine, but incorporating homemade takes the soup to another level.

One optional ingredient is a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, which we keep a small ziplocked stash of in the freezer at all times. A good practice that you should get in the habit of because they come in handy for a variety of recipes, and last a long time.

FYI, one medium celery stalk does not 3/4-cup make, so use at least two—better yet three—stalks. Next time we’ll probably double the amount of kale too. Our final touch was a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you’re so inclined, pair the soup with a chunk of crusty multigrain bread. And if you’re lucky enough to have any leftover, it’s perfect for lunch…Bellissimo!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 quart homemade or lower-salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • Two 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 oz. Lacinato kale, center ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 4 firmly packed cups)
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (1×3 inches; optional)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 lb. sweet or hot bulk Italian sausage, rolled into bite-size meatballs

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 seconds.
  2. Add the broth, beans, kale, and Parmigiano rind (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 Tbs. oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sausage meatballs, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage to the soup and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes more to meld the flavors.
  5. Stir the cider vinegar into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Variations

To serve 1 vegetarian and 3 meat lovers: Use vegetable broth for the soup. Reduce the sausage to 1/2 lb. and cook the meatballs in the same fashion. After stirring the cider vinegar into the soup and seasoning to taste, set aside 1-3/4 cups of the soup for the vegetarian before adding the meatballs.

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by Ivy Manning from Fine Cooking

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