A hearty, satisfying soup to warm you up on a cold winter day. Cheese tortellini, Italian sausage, and kale in a rich, tomato based broth.
We are smack in the middle of one of the biggest storms we’ve had here in Northern California in years. It’s being called everything from the “Storm of the Decade” to my favorite, “Stormageddon”. The build-up has been incredible and even exhilarating to to watch. Incredibly excited weather forecasters with more energy than I’ve seen – ever (weather is exciting!) have been building the tension with surprisingly detailed information on what we should expect – flooding, 70mph winds, more flooding…your power is going to go out, FOR SURE, etc. This news sent the masses out to clear store shelves of bottled water, flashlights, and batteries. I stocked up on chocolate.
It all started this morning and so far, we’re just fine here (please don’t let the power go out before I hit “publish” on this post). There are lots of other nearby communities who have not fared so well and the rain is not through with us just yet. It’s been a tough day for a lot of folks and my heart goes out to those who’ve suffered property damage.
With the impending storm bearing down on us, and all the gloom and doom around these parts, I knew exactly what was needed. Soup! Soup is my cure-all. My old, dependable go-to when things get tough. I swear I could sustain myself on soups alone with maybe a piece of crusty bread thrown in every now and then. This one is loaded with cheese tortellini, Italian sausage, and kale and it will satisfy you deep down inside.
Before we go any further, let me apologize for the light – or lack of it – in my kitchen. It is almost black as night outside at mid-day with this gloomy weather and, since light = beautiful photos, some of my in kitchen shots are not so hot. End of photo disclaimer.
What you see above is lacinto kale, also known as Tuscan kale. It’s a dark almost blue-green color and has an interesting bumpy texture to the leaves. It is very substantial and is really good sauteed and cooked into soups and stews. It’s also wonderful raw and is frequently used in kale salads. I highly recommend you visit Jacquelyn of Marin Mama Cooks if you are looking for some great kale salad recipes. This lady is the kale salad Queen!
First thing you’ll do is remove the stem the runs down the center of the kale leaves. I find it easiest to just slice right down each side of it with a sharp knife. You can also de-stem the kale by pulling the stem out which Jacquelyn describes wonderfully in her post for Lacinto Kale Salad.
Discard the tough stems and chop the remainder. I gave it a toss in my salad spinner to make sure it was squeaky clean.
Remove 3 links of mild Italian sausage from their casings and cook, crumbling with a spoon, until no pink remains. Season it with a touch of salt as it cooks. Absolutely feel free to substitute turkey sausage here if that’s your thing. I love turkey Italian sausage and use it frequently. Transfer the cooked, crumbled sausage to a double layer of paper towels to absorb any excess grease and wipe out any remaining grease from the pan.
Coat the pan with olive oil and saute the chopped kale, some chopped onion, minced garlic, and some crushed red pepper for a couple of minutes to soften the onion and kale. I only add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to add a little zing but not too much heat.
Add the chicken broth, a can of Italian style crushed tomatoes, and some Italian seasoning. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Next, add a small package of cheese tortellini. I love Rana’s line of pasta – hands down my favorite packaged tortellini. In my store, it is in the refrigerated section near the packaged deli meats. Cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tortellini is tender.
Season it with some fresh ground pepper and stir in about 1/2 cup of Parmesan. I used the shaved variety that I buy at Costco but you can grate your own. It’s all good!
Garnish the individual servings with a little more Parmesan. See those little brioche rolls in the background? An excellent choice for soaking up that rich, tomato-y broth. French bread will do nicely as well.
If you’re in an area where you are being affected by this rain, stay warm, stay dry, and stay put! And, make some soup.
- 3 links mild Italian sausage (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 pound), casings removed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, or enough to coat bottom of pan
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 small bunch kale (I used lacinto kale), stems removed, chopped, rinsed, and drained
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 (28 ounce) can Italian style crushed tomatoes in puree
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 (8 to 10 ounce) package cheese tortellini
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Cook Italian sausage in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until completely crumbled and no pink remains. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked sausage to a double layer of paper towels to absorb any excess grease.
- Pour off grease from pan, return to stove, and add olive oil. Add onion, garlic, kale, and crushed red pepper. Cook for two or three minutes, stirring, until onion has softened and kale is slightly wilted. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Set stove to medium-high and bring mixture just to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cover and stir in tortellini and cooked sausage. Increase heat and bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until tortellini is tender. Remove cover stir in Parmesan. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper, as desired.
- Garnish individual servings with additional Parmesan cheese.
- To reheat leftovers, thin out to desired consistency with a little water or additional chicken broth before warming in the microwave.