Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sausage/Kale/Rice Soup: 12/30/09

Although this is going to be out of sequence (yet to post Linguine & Clams, Caesar, etc. from Christmas), it's on the stove as I type (or was on 12/30 when I started this post!). And... it makes this crazy cold weather completely worthwhile!


Sausage: 1.5-2 lbs, 1/4-1/2" slices.  I used 1 lb Polish Sausage and 1/2 lb smoked (ultra smoked!) raw beef sausage homemade from Edwin's (my partner) family.
Onion: 2 med, medium dice.  Yellow or white.
Garlic: 7-8 cloves, smashed, rough chop.
Diced Tomato: 3 c, strained from juices.  Yes, from a can.  (Container and freeze the juices for something else).  Stay tuned for my preferences on brand.
Kale: 4 c, blanched and spun of excess water, coarse chiffonade.  Ratio of raw to blanched kale is about 1:1, lbs to cups.  No need to get too crazy, just make sure no huge pieces will get in the soup.
Bay Leaf: 2-3.
Red Pepper Flake: 2 tsp or a bit more... this is more to spike the flavor than to create a spicy heat... but make it a-spicy if you like.
Chicken Stock: 6 c, I actually used homemade turkey stock (recipe coming soon), although it's not often you'll have that on-hand.  **Note: it's handy to pre-heat the stock in another pan so that the soup comes to a simmer faster than with cold or room-temp stock.
Rice: brown, white, wild... whatever your preference.  I prefer this on-the-side, not actually in the soup.  If you have a rice cooker (I don't, but really must get one), you're set!  If not, I'll include a quick recipe in the process below.
On-Hand: xvoo, s&p, cider vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano, scallion


1) Heat a couple tbsp/rounds of xvoo in a pot (stainless works... enameled is great... makes sure it's 8 qts or larger) on med-high heat.  Add chopped onion and let brown for 2-3 minutes.  Add a good pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, the red pepper flakes and bay leaves.  Give a good stir and let saute for 8-10 minutes.
2) Add the sausage and garlic to the onions, stir and continue sauteing for 7-8 minutes, stirring a couple times.
3) Add the diced/drained tomatoes, stock and water to the pot; stir to incorporate.  Cover the pot for 5-6 minutes until the soup starts to steam a bit.  Add the kale and stir well to incorporate; let simmer another 10-15 minutes until flavor is where you want it.  Season with s&p to your taste.
4) Add a scoop of rice to a soup bowl, then the soup.  Top with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. 
**Rice: 2.5-to-1 ratio, water (or stock) to rice .  Always rinse your rice (removes excess starch and reduces sticking/clumping).  Bring water to a boil in a covered pan.  Add rice and stir... bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a very, very light simmer in the pan.  Keep cover offset on pan to allow steam to escape... simmer for the next 20-30 minutes.  DO NOT STIR!!!  You can lightly fluff with a fork no more than twice during cooking to make sure rice has absorbed the liquid.  

- You MUST serve this with a couple slices of hot, crusty (and buttered!) bread like sourdough, French baguette, etc.
- Using the rind of Parmigiano Reggiano in the soup... just a couple smallish pieces... richens the flavors and can add a creamy quality to the soup (thanks, Giada).
- Adding fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, or sage... yum.
- Other toppings such as fresh chopped Italian parsley, scallion, dollop of sour cream...
- Switching out the starch like small pasta, diced/cooked potatoes, barley... I still prefer to keep my starches separate from the actual soup since they can significantly alter the consistency and texture.

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