Winter Weather & Sausage and Kale Soup

This week at the Cooking Club our assignment is yet another Ruth Reichl dish “that speaks to you” so in my case those spoken words screamed a hot-pot of soup.  I chose Ruth’s Cannellini bean Sausage and Kale soup which in reality is not very different from a version that I make and to speed things along I made an Instant Pot version, but cut the recipe in half…with a few common ingredients and options to choose your favorite green if you don’t like kale, spinach can be substituted for one and I imagine baby greens would work just as well.  I did have smoked sausage, but I would consider a good Italian sausage as well.

I was going to soak the beans for 8 hours, but time got away from me and they only were soaked for 4 hours so I resorted to the Instant Pot method and a 20 minute pressure cooking time and a natural release…I got really lazy and added everything to the pot for pressure cooking and the only thing that I sautéed was the kielbasa.  When the soup is finished, stir in cooked pasta if using.  Sere with grated cheese.

My revised recipe cuts the amount of liquid, of course, so with the basic ingredients below you can make your own adaptations.  Again a lota lotsa garlic bread is in order.

Ingredients for Ruth’s white bean, sausage, and kale soup: slightly adapted

1 lb dried white beans, such as great northern, cannellini, or navy, picked over and rinsed
2 T olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cups (40 oz) chicken stock
8 cups water
1 (3-by-2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
*optional diced San Marzano tomatoes-14 ounces for 1/2 a batch
1 lb smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 lb kale lacinato, stems and tough center ribs discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
2 tsp salt if you use salt
Serve with *Optional cooked ditalini for each bowl
Grated cheese
*Optional red pepper flakes, just a pinch or two

Soak beans in water to cover by 2 inches, refrigerated, for at least 8 hours; drain

Heat oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 min. Add beans, stock, 4 cups water, cheese rind, rosemary, bay leaf, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 mins.

Meanwhile, brown sausage, if using, in batches in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Stir carrots into soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in kale, sausage, remaining 4 cups water, and salt, bring to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with additional salt, if necessary, and pepper. Discard bay leaf.

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