I posted a photo of this soup to Instagram [ let's be friends! I'm @itwasjustlikethat] close to two months ago and promised it to a couple friends. Somehow the recipe I used was shoved into the most bizarre drawer in the house - I'm guessing some mad 3 minute - oh shit guests are almost here - type cleaning spree. I might miss my personal deadlines by a good bit [hello wedding thank you cards a mere 13 months overdue] but I most always get the job done...
Less words. More soup!
adapted from Donna Hay Magazine - Issue 69
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic [sliced or crushed]
1 tsp. fennel [totally optional if you're not into that slight-licorice vibe.]
1 heaping tsp. dried chili flakes
6 cups chicken stock*
8oz orecchiette [about half a standard-sized box]
8oz kale leaves, stemmed and chopped [I ended up with about 4 cups.]
1 lbs hot Italian pork sausages, skin removed [about 3-4 links]
finely grated parmesan, to serve
Heat a large, preferably cast iron, skillet with 1Tbs. olive oil over medium-high to high heat. Add the sausage, breaking up large lumps into smaller pieces as you go, and cook until browned. [The original recipe indicated 5-6 minutes, but mine easily took closer to 15, so I advise doing this first - you can always keep the cooked sausage warm if it finishes before your pasta & kale.]
Meanwhile, heat a dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat with remaining 1Tbs. olive oil. Add garlic and onion and cook 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add chili flakes and fennel, if using, and cook for 1 minute. Next, add the chicken stock. Once boiling, add the orecchiette and cook for ~10minutes or until al dente/just under your desired texture. Add kale - don't be overwhelmed by it's volume of kale, it will quickly wilt down. Feel free to add it in batches or all at once, folding as it begins to collapse. Let simmer 2 minutes until just wilted and season liberally with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with sausage crumbles and a heap of good parmesan. Preferably curled up on the couch with a blanket around your feet.
-Like most soups, feel free to adapt! If you don't like spicy food, swap out the sausage and skip the chili flakes. Don't have quite the amount of sausage, kale, stock - whatever, Don't sweat it!
-It may seem counter-intuitive to cook the sausage in a separate pan, dirtying more dishes than necessary. I thought it odd at first too, but loved how I didn't have to drain the pot of sausage fat halfway through & it kept the soup from feeling greasy. It also cuts the cooking time by a good few minutes. If you'd rather have less pans to clean, by all means cook the sausage first in your dutch oven - If you're not worried about it being too greasy , might as well even do the sausage, onion, and garlic at the same time.
-Most importantly, as with all soups - using homemade vs. store-bought stock will have a huge impact on the outcome of your meal. It's so worth the minimal effort it takes to make a good homemade stock to keep on hand. I've also found great stock at Real Foods Market and occasionally at Whole Foods.
Bonus points if you serve it with cheesy brolled toasts.