Last Saturday another ten inches of snow fell across Charlottesville, blanketing my city in delicate drifts of sparkling white. I awoke in the wee morning hours, just as soft gray light started to seep through the cracks between the blinds over the bedroom window. Aside from the soft snores of the dogs nestled at my feet, all was quiet. The typical sounds of tires meeting asphalt, wind rustling tree branches and birds chirping from their power line perch were nonexistent, lost in the insulation provided by a muffling snow.
I slid out of bed, thankful that I’d kept socks on my feet and wouldn’t have to endure the cold hardwood floor against bare skin. Padding out to the kitchen I paused at a window to peek outside and was greeted with an idyllic view. Three inches of snow does wonders for an imperfect ground, provides each and every limb of surrounding trees with sugary peaks along their length, silences a high-trafficked road. I couldn’t deny that I enjoyed this scene – my outside world painted white; bright and shiny and devoid of mud. I stood there, mesmerized by my transformed street and the plump flakes still spiraling down from a silver sky, and made up with Winter.
Finally, the promise of a cup of coffee and a long kitchen agenda were enough to pull me from my trance. To have an entire Saturday with no errands, no obligations, no sunshine-filled sky tempting me to leash up the dogs for a hike in the woods, seemed luxurious. Despite the snowflake-clogged air, the light pouring through our windows was clear and bright, the ground having become a natural reflector as I slept. My camera screamed at me to get started, to not waste a single, brilliant moment. I simmered and sauteed and baked and photographed all day, stopping every once in awhile to marvel at the still-falling snow that had gifted me this time.
This soup emerged with perfect timing, the kale softening just as Brian came in from shoveling our sidewalks and driveway. Hearty with potatoes and greens, flavored by bright leeks and spicy sausage, it promises to warm the coldest of bodies and satisfy the grayest of minds. You can’t help but to be thankful for Winter as the thick broth slides down your throat, the heat of the sausage spreading from inside out, a sensation not necessarily welcome during the Summer months but oh so tasty against a backdrop of falling snow.
This soup is very easy to make, coming together in just 45 minutes. The hot Italian sausage is a key player, infusing the broth with wonderful flavor and heat.
Spicy Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup
- 2 large leeks, rinsed and sliced to 1/4-inch strips (about 3 cups total)
- 2 cups diced onion
- 3 large Russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (leave about 1/2 the skin on the potatoes)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 pound of hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 3 cups of chopped kale (stems removed)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, onions and potatoes and stir to coat with butter. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and let vegetables sweat for 15 minutes.
- Remove cover and add broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Drop sausage in small chunks into soup. Cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Remove 2 cups of soup from pot, avoiding large chunks of sausage. Puree those 2 cups in a blender until smooth. Add back to soup pot and stir to incorporate evenly. Add kale and cover pot, allowing to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove cover and lower heat. Add heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Heat through, but don’t let the soup simmer again or the cream will curdle a bit (as in my photos).
- Salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe, and Bella Eats, made its debut on SuzySaid – Charlottesville on Monday. I have been asked to contribute a recipe each week to the site, and am so excited to be part of such a wonderful online resource for women in my city. If you’re from Charlottesville or the surrounding area, check out SuzySaid – Charlottesville for information on upcoming events and local businesses. And tune in each Monday for a new recipe from Bella Eats!