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I’m pledged on this blog to post recipes that are mostly created using local, seasonal ingredients. One of our new favorites among winter soups is Zuppa, an Italian soup from Tuscany that uses lots of kale, leeks, and Italian sausage. I served it last night to my father, who thought kale was just a funny garnish. He loved this soup! Zuppa is a great way to introduce non-kale eaters to kale.
Here’s what you’ll need for 3 good servings:
- 1-2 leek bottoms, cleaned and sliced across the grain (save the tops for a recipe where you’ll puree the soup)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely pressed or chopped
- 2 large waxy potatoes, like Yukon gold or red potatoes (I used one of each!)
- optional: 1 carrot, finely diced
- 3 spicy Italian sausages, cooked and sliced in half lengthwise and then in thin slices across the grain (I used organic chicken sausages)
- optional: red pepper, if you use sweet Italian sausage instead of spicy
- rosemary sprig (or a few teaspoons of dried rosemary)–I removed the fresh rosemary spring after it flavored the soup
- optional: fresh or dried marjoram and/or oregano
- about a quart of chicken or turkey stock
- 1-2 quarts fresh kale leaves (measured before tough stems are removed–see below)
- milk or cream to taste to fill out servings
- salt and pepper to taste
I prepared this soup in a 2-quart, 8-inch wide cast iron Dutch oven. The cast iron lets you cook the leeks and garlic at a very low setting without burning them, and then it lets you simmer for a while. The 2-quart size is ideal for a family of 2-3 people.
Begin by cleaning the leek. Slice off the root. Slice off all about about an inch of the green part (the top). (Remember, they’ll go great in a pureed soup!) Slice the leeks lengthwise to clean, leafing through the layers to look for dirt. Now slice the leek in thin slices across the grain. Saute the leek slices in olive oil. Now prep the garlic and add it too, being careful not to burn it. Dice the potatoes and add them to the mix, stirring regularly. Now start adding your stock. Let the potatoes cook in the stock for about 20 minutes until they are soft. Now add your sliced sausage. Let the soup simmer while you prepare the kale. (If you wanted to start this soup well in advance, you could prepare it up to this point even the day before.)
Wash the kale thoroughly and remove any tough stems. Now chop it fine. When you do, you should notice the sweet aroma, like fresh-cut spring grass. (My dad agrees that it smells like fresh-cut spring grass!) Kale is an absolutely amazing food, one of the healthiest ever. One cup boiled, for example, contains 1327% of the USDA recommended daily value of Vitamin K, 192% of the RDV of Vitamin A, and 88% of the RDV of Vitamin C, all for just 36 calories! Read more about kale’s health benefits here.
About 10-20 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the chopped kale. Let the soup simmer for 10-20 minutes until it is soft but still bright green. Add about a cup of milk or cream. Stir well, heat through, and serve with good, crusty bread, roasted winter squash, and a nice salad of winter greens!