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Mediterranean Kale & White Bean Soup with Sausage

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Serves six to eight.

Yields about 10 cups.

  • To learn more, read:
    Peppery, Ruffled Kale
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 91

This garlicky soup is a snap to pull together, and most of the ingredients are basic pantry staples. The whole thing is ready in about an hour, but the soup’s complex flavors belie the quick cooking time. You can serve it as soon as the kale is tender, but letting it sit for an hour and then reheating gently makes it even better (wait to add the lemon until just before serving). Crusty cheese toasts make an excellent accompaniment.

  • 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage (about 3 links)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • One-half small yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into small dice
  • 1 rib celery, cut into small dice
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 lb. 3 oz. can cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups cooked dried beans
  • 1 lb. kale, rinsed, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups firmly packed)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Remove the sausage from its casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 4- or 5-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high, and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and brown, about 2 minutes more. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium, add the sausage along with any collected juices, and half the beans. Mash the remaining beans with a fork or wooden spoon and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute. Stir in the kale, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on 8 servings; Calories (kcal): 200; Fat (g): fat g 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 2; Protein (g): protein g 13; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 21; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 530; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 10; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Paul Johnson

Excellent soup. Even my "I don't like green stuff" picky eater loved it. Served with fresh pumpernickel .

This soup is AWESOME. I made it for family and friends, and it was a hit! Followed the recipe, but may have added more red pepper flakes. Very easy to make and very tasty.

Delish! We're not kale eaters but I had bought some for another recipe and had a lot left over so I decided to make this soup. Easy to make with great flavor! I didn't have any sweet sausage so I substituted hot sausage instead which provided a little extra kick. The grated lemon rind/juice was a nice touch giving it a very subtle lemon flavor. I'll be adding this to my favorite soups!

I read the reviews and thought this recipe can't be THAT good, but it definitely was! I omitted the lemon and used a parmesan cheese rind for flavor, and was very happy with the results. Yummy!

I really enjoyed this soup. It's flavorful, healthy and quick enough to make on a week night. Same as other reviewers, I doubled the celery, onion and carrot. I also ended up using a 1/2 lb of Kale, which was plenty for me. I will definitely make this one again!

Yummy stew! We used turkey sausage with no problem. Just add a bit of oil with the sausage to be sure it doesn't stick. Great quick weeknight meal.

I love this soup! Just the right mix of veggie and meat:) My fiance asks for it again and again!

Very flavorful, ingredients are inexpensive, and requires very little work to prepare. Truly excellent!

A family that eats soup together, stays together. I kicked it up a notch, with extra red pepper flakes and substituted spicy sausage for the sweet. Reminded me a bit of Tuscan peasant soup on this site. Both are crowd pleasers.

A family that eats soup together, stays together. I kicked it up a notch, with extra red pepper flakes and substituted spicy sausage for the sweet. Reminded me a bit of Tuscan peasant soup on this site. Both are crowd pleasers.

I LOVE this soup! It is by far my favorite hearty soup recipe. I have fixed it for friends and they give it two thumbs up as well. Just follow the recipe as it is written. The seasonings are perfect and the combination of sausage,kale, and beans is wonderful.

I use ham when I don't have sausage. I also used black eyed peas once when I didn't have enough white beans. It works. I love this soup and so do my preschool-age kids and my husband.

We loved this soup. I, like the other raters, added additional onion, celery and carrots; otherwise, we made no changes. This is the first time we have had kale (did not need 1 lb. - buy with 8 cups in mind and you will get the right amount) and were skeptical but would definitely have it again - will try braising the extra I bought. Made the cheese toasts that are with the creamy tomato soup recipe (I think this is the name) - they have dijon, gruyere and parmesan - also great.

Easy and relatively quick to make with outstanding flavor. Substitution of various sausage (andouille, ex) and adding pimenton or other spices is easy. Various types of beans also work well. Great for learning new technique to work with kale - it's challenging to find recipes that make good use of this good-for-you winter green while not being over the top with delicious but decadent ingredients (with cream in a yummy gratin, for example)! Thank you Ruth - this one's a keeper!

We love this soup! I use lacinato (a/k/a cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, black kale) and chicken Italian sausage. I add about half again as many carrots, celery and onions as the recipe calls for and about 2 extra cups of chicken broth. I omit the lemon juice and zest and serve it with grated Parmesan cheese. It's also great with spicy sausage.

This is delicious. I use the Kale and it was so good. If anyone is skeptical about using Kale please try this recipe. I did one thing different added more celery and carrots and the whole onion. Yummmmmmm

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