Savory Sausage and Kale Soup

With cooler weather in the (hopefully near) future, I start to think about the soothing comfort of a hot bowl of soup. I love soup of all varieties, but one of my favorites is this sausage and kale soup. It's healthy, filling, delicious, and easy to make. Plus, you could easily add or omit things to make it your own. That's my kind of recipe!

When you think of kale, what comes to mind? That little piece of wilted garnish on your plate that nobody ever eats? That's all I thought kale was for years! Kale has recently come to see its day in the spotlight, though, being touted as a superfood and added to many salad mixtures. Poor, mistreated kale is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Once you try this soup, you'll know why.

The original recipe was given to me by my mother (thanks, Mama), who saw it on a cooking show, I believe. I certainly do not claim it to be all my own, but I have made a few changes to it until I found the combination my family enjoys. I'd love to share it with you so you can make it for your family. It will be a comforting meal as our days shorten and cool air settles in around us.

Ingredients to make sausage and kale soup.
Lots of goodness in this picture!

What you'll need:

  • Kale: about five cups, rough-chopped or torn. You can use any variety of kale that you want, just make sure to cut the thick ribs out from the center.

  • Sausage: one pound. I use ground Italian mild sausage. You could use any kind you prefer. I have used link sausage cut up before, but my family all prefer the ground. This brand (pictured in the ingredients photo) is from Aldi and is also one of the few varieties I have found that is free of nitrates and doesn't give me a migraine headache.

  • Chicken or vegetable stock: You'll need two quarts (64 ounces). This can be store-bought or homemade. I use homemade stock.

  • Canned tomatoes: I use one quart (32 ounces). If you don't like as many tomatoes you could use one pint (16 ounces) instead, but we love our homegrown, canned tomatoes. Do not drain them.

  • Cannelini beans: two cans, undrained.

  • Carrots: three to four, rough-chopped.

  • Celery: three to four ribs, rough-chopped.

  • Onion: one medium to large, rough-chopped. I like to use Vidalia or yellow sweet onions, but you could use any you prefer.

  • Garlic: six cloves or two tablespoons of minced. I don't always have fresh garlic on hand, so I often use minced.

  • Olive oil: one tablespoon.

  • Rotini Pasta: eight ounces. You could probably use any smaller pasta, but I like rotini.

  • Rosemary: one sprig fresh, leaves only, minced. You can also use dried rosemary, about one tablespoon, and crush the leaves.

  • Black pepper: one-half teaspoon, or to taste.

  • Salt: one teaspoon, or to taste. I like to use about a teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt.

A Dutch oven, cutting board, knife, and can opener.
My favorite soup pot!

Equipment needed :

This may look like a longer ingredients list, but it's simple to make, comes together quickly, and doesn't dirty up many dishes. All you need is:

  • A cutting board: to chop your veggies on.

  • A sharp knife: to cut your veggies and rosemary.

  • Your favorite soup pot: don't we all have a favorite soup pot? Or is that just me? Either way, a five-quart Dutch oven style pot is a great choice.

  • Basic measuring utensils: to measure the seasonings.

  • A can opener: to open the beans, unless they have a pull-off top.

  • Your stove: For cooking your delicious soup, of course.

Steps to make it:

First, add the oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it up. Then, add your sausage and cook it until it's brown. If needed, drain the excess grease from the sausage. I haven't had to do this, but you don't want a greasy soup.

While the sausage is browning, wash and chop all your veggies if you haven't done so already. This won't take long since you're rough-chopping them all. You'll want to keep the pieces large enough that they don't cook down to mush in the pot.

Cut the stems out of the kale and rough-chop or tear it into pieces, if you haven't done so already. In the pictures below, you can see that thick stem. It won't cook down well in the soup and you'll be left with tougher pieces if you don't remove it. This kale was previously blanched and frozen.

Once the sausage is browned, add the stock and the tomatoes to the pot and stir it well. This will take a little bit to come back up to temperature and boil, but you can continue to add your other ingredients while it's heating back up.

Next, add all the chopped vegetables to the pot. Stir everything again to mix, being careful not to slosh. The pot will be getting full now. Add the cannellini beans and stir the soup again. Next, you'll add the kale and stir it all one more time.

Now it's time to mince the rosemary and add it, along with the salt, pepper, and garlic to the pot. Stir everything good one more time.

The last step is to add the uncooked pasta. I used half of a 16-ounce box of rotini. This amount works well, as it doesn't soak up too much of the liquid and leaves you with an actual soup. Once you add the pasta, give it a final good stir and allow it to come back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook at a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. It will need to cook for about two hours. If you're worried that the pasta will cook too long you can always add it later, but I've never had any problems with it.

This soup feeds a large family. Our family of six can eat it for dinner twice and still have some left. It's even better the next day. You can serve it with a salad and some bread or crackers, or enjoy it all by itself. If you'd like to leave the sausage out and use vegetable stock, this would be a hearty vegetarian dish.

A pot of sausage and kale soup.
The finished product. Yummm!

This is one of my favorite things to do with kale, and I'm really excited that fall is coming up and I have kale seeds in the ground. The kale I used to make this soup is the last of my frozen kale from last fall's garden, so hopefully the fall garden does well this season.

I hope this soup brings you and your family as much comfort as it does me and mine. If you try it and make some changes, I'd love to hear how it goes.

Do you have another favorite soup that is your "go-to" as fall approaches? I'd love to hear about it!

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