Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sausage, Cannellini and Kale Soup
This hearty Tuscan soup is full of flavor. The crinkly, deep-green leaves of Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or black kale) are ideal, but any variety of kale will work.
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 (1x3 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
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. 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.
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.
Add the sausage to the soup and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes more to meld the flavors. Stir the cider vinegar into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.
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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