Of Colds and Lil’ Black Dresses
‘Tis the season for the sniffles…I got ‘em, you got ‘em, everyone’s got ‘em. Misery loves company right? Another love of those of us dogged by the flu or a cold is soup. Nothing beats a steaming savory bowl of soup when you’re sick, or, for that matter, any other time the mercury drops below 40. How fitting then that January is National Soup Month here in the States.
Last winter I did some thematic weeks of posting, including two separate Week of Soup events. These proved to be a very popular series here on SFTF so I know several of you love soup as much as I do. A pot of soup gurgling on the stove is the ultimate in comfort food. Quite often, as in this particular instance, it’s incredibly healthy too, crammed full of vitamins and minerals.
But I also know there are others of you that are a bit intimidated by making homemade soup. I have a wonderfully easy recipe to share with you today that will make even the most timid cook a quick study on stews. Anne Bramley’s Eat Feed Autumn Winter is the source for this hearty rustic Quick & Easy Italian Soup. As Anne does so often in the cookbook, she introduces this recipe with a keenly accurate and witty description: “This is the little black dress of the winter cooking world. Everybody has that simple little number to throw on without much fuss.”
It’s true! Just like that dress (or that shirt, for you fellas) in your closet that’s the workhorse of your wardrobe and somehow still manages to always elicit at least one compliment every time you wear it, this tasty soup is very simple to make and yet ridiculously flavorful. Dress it up or down with a few accessories – crusty chewy rolls for instance – and you’ve got yourself a soup that will take you from a quick workday lunch to a cozy romantic dinner for two.
Curious about kale? The kind I used in this pot of soup is called “dinosaur” kale (or just “dino” for short or ‘Lacinato’ variety for those that want a more technical name) and is an old-world variety favored by Italian great-grandmothers for its flavor and texture. I think it’s just such a beautiful green. You could use any variety of kale for this soup, but I do recommend getting the dino kale if you can find it. If you’re kale-less all together, collards could be substituted here. Kale of any variety is abundant in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, calcium and good ol’ fiber. Eat a lot of this and you’ll be sure to easily slip back into your own little black dress and beat that pesky winter cold.
QUICK & EASY ITALIAN SOUP
Adapted from Eat Feed Autumn Winter
1 large bunch fresh kale
2 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
5 C. vegetable broth
14 oz. can of diced Italian herbs tomatoes
1 lb. Italian sausage (soy varieties are available)
14 oz. can of cannelloni beans, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Small pinch of cayenne
Remove the stems of kale, wash and dry. Coarsely chop the leaves into 2 inch pieces. In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes until it is fragrant. Add the broth and tomatoes (and juice). Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Add the sausage and kale, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 8-10 minutes or until the sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Add the beans and heat through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.