This time of year we start to get kale in our CSA boxes on a fairly regular basis. I know a lot of you have probably tried the ever-popular baked kale chips, and you may love them… But, I really can’t say that I’m a fan. Sure, if you add a lot of oil and salt, they taste alright, but I figure I’m better off using my kale in other ways. I’m pretty sure the amount of fat and sodium in my kale chips outweighs any health benefits.
Once we start having chilly fall evenings, I tend to pull out my slow cooker, and I find myself adding kale to soups and sauces pretty frequently. One of my favorite pairings for kale is white beans. They just work so well together. In fact, I’ve written about soup made with kale and white beans before… At least I’m consistent, right?
This recipe isn’t an exact duplicate for my previous soup recipe, though there are similarities. My method was a bit different this time, and I think I actually liked the flavor of this soup better. By browning the Italian sausage and then cooking the beans in the slow cooker all day in the sausage drippings and a rich chicken broth, the beans packed a lot of flavor. And, the house smelled great all day long, too!
White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage (casings removed)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 pound dry white beans (canellini or great northern), rinsed
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 large bunch kale, thick stems removed and chopped
- Parmigino-reggiano cheese (optional)
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula as it browns. Once the sausage is cooked through, add the red wine vinegar to deglaze the pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the meat and drippings to your slow cooker.
Add the beans, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to the meat in the slow cooker, and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth and the sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.
Approximately 30 minutes before serving, stir in the tomato and the kale. Once the tomato is warmed through and the kale has wilted into the soup, serve topped with flakes of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, if desired.