It rained. Hallelujah! It was already raining when I woke up and it continued to rain until after sunset. Although the gray skies and inundated garden meant no food photography outdoors (no one wants drenched soup nor was I going to risk getting my camera wet), it was a blast cooking this kale, sweet potato and sausage soup in a cool kitchen.
We discovered kale at S&R a few days ago. I thought I was finally going to experience kale for the first time but, after reading up, I learned that kai-lan which we have been cooking and eating for ages is a variety of kale. It’s just the other varieties that I haven’t cooked with nor eaten yet. Ahhh, the things that one can learn with just a few key strokes and clicks. I read everything I could find about kale and wrote an introduction to kale for future reference.
There are several varieties of kale but the one I used for this soup is called Lacinato Kale which is also known commercially as Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale and Cavolo Nero. You may substitute some other variety but since each variety has a distinct flavor, your choice will affect the overall taste of the soup.
The same is true for the sausages. Every sausage is flavored differently, the amount of fat varies and some are able to retain their shape after prolonged cooking while others have a tendency to crumble after cutting. I used Spanish sausages which are highly seasoned with paprika and pepper.
How can the soup be so tasty with such few ingredients? Kale and celery have distinct flavors of their own, and celery is highly aromatic. But two other ingredients can make or break this soup: the bone broth and the sausages.
When I make bone broth, I add a slew of aromatics into the pot. Whole cloves of garlic, an onion (which I halve if large), whole peppercorns and bay leaves are the mainstays.
Depending on how I intend to use the broth, I may add more. Rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, celery, leeks (or scallions), carrot or ginger are some of these additions. Even ears of corn (yes, just the ears after stripping off the kernels) work too. Not exactly all of them together but a combination of two or more of them.
After hours of simmering, all the flavors from those vegetables, herbs and spices mix in with the flavor that had been stripped from the bones. When you have broth as flavorful as that, you don’t need to overdo the seasonings when making a soup with it.
And then, there’s the sausages. If you’ve seen how sausages are made (and I’m not talking about sausage factories here), you’ll most likely be aware that ground meat is not the only thing that gets stuffed into the casing. Herbs and spices are mixed with the ground meat even before the stuffing begins.
Combine good quality broth with highly seasoned sausages and you can be sure that you’ll come up with an exceptionally tasty soup.
Will sweet sausages work for this recipe? Yes, but I recommend substituting potato for the sweet potato because sweet sausages and sweet potato together might overpower the savory flavors in the soup.
Can this kale, sweet potato and sausage soup go into the slow cooker? I haven’t tried but I’ll say, “Yes!” You’ll have to find out for yourself though what the ideal cooking time is, and whether cooking on LOW or HIGH, or a combination of both, will give the best result.
Kale, Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Pour the broth into a pot and start heating.
While waiting for the broth to boil, peel the sweet potato and cut into half-inch cubes.
Thinly slice the celery.
Cut the sausages into half-inch thick rings.
Cut the kale leaves horizontally into three to four pieces.
When the broth boils, add the sweet potato cubes, celery, sliced sausages, fried shallots and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper. Stir. When the broth reaches boiling point once more, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
Taste the broth. If it needs more salt and pepper, add just enough to acquire a good balance.
Serve the kale, sweet potato and sausage soup at once.