I went to the grocery store the other day and picked up some chicken, beef, and hot Italian sausages, not sure what I was going to do with any of them. I already had kale in the fridge and was contemplating making soup, so I figured I'd use one of them, probably the beef. While I was unpacking the groceries, I changed my mind and opted to use the sausage - good choice! I had a bowl for dinner last night and had to go back for another. I was just bummed I hadn't gotten an earlier start in the day to have baked some bread to soak up the broth with.
6 hot Italian sausages
1 T olive oil
1 leek, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced or sliced into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t black pepper
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, chopped (remove thick stems)
32 oz chicken broth
4 c water
1 c small soup pasta
In a dry, non-stick pan (or seasoned skillet), brown the sausages well, all the way around. You don't need to worry about whether they are completely cooked through, because they will finish off in the soup. Once you start to really smell them cooking and they start to plump up and "talk" to you, feel free to poke some pin-prick holes in them with the tip of a knife. When they are well browned, remove from heat and set aside to cool enough to handle.
In a large stock pot, sauté the garlic, leek, and red bell pepper until they start to soften. If you haven't worked with leeks before, you should be aware that they can be extremely dirty, so you will want to wash them very well. I slice off the root, then slice the bulb up to just below the greens, then separate the greens to wash them well.
Slice the sausages into rings and add to the pot. Let that cook for a minute or two to re-heat the sausages and give them a chance to imbue their flavor into the veggies. Squeeze in the lemon juice to deglaze the pan and add a bit of acid to the soup, then season with the two peppers.
I did not add salt, as the sausage was on the salty side, and I would be using Parmesan as well, which is salty.
Add the kale to the pot, stirring well from the bottom to nicely coat the greens and get them to wilt down. Depending on the size of your pot, you might need to do this a little at a time.
Once the kale has wilted down, add the broth, water and, and pasta. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the pasta is tender.
Ladle into soup bowls and top with grated Parmesan.