In case you haven’t noticed, it’s still frickin’ freezing out-not to mention, this has to be the worst cold/flu/insert-your-latest-plague-here season ever. In the course of these winter doldrums, my thoughts in the past would turn to the old nurturing standby, “Jewish penicillin”, a.k.a Chicken Soup. In recent years, I’ve found another reliable cure-all: one with even more flavor, more heartiness-and will get you to eat your greens (and love it)…it’s a sausage-tortellini soup recipe I found in an old Bon Appetit almost 10 years ago. And one of the star ingredients is one of the most powerful, immune-system-boosting, winter greens available: kale. Even if you only thought of it as a leaf with no culinary appeal other than a garnish on the side of the plate, I urge you to try this recipe and think again.
It’s such an ideal dish for winter, as it requires mostly pantry ingredients- and kale can be obtained locally, as it’s one of the few things still growing in this state during these harsh cold months. You can cut down on the fat (as I often do) by using turkey kielbasa and plain old dried pasta (instead of the tortellini). It’s also a quick soup to make, and one my kids actually ask for. Try it and let me know what you think!
Tortellini Soup With Canellini, Kielbasa, and Kale
2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 ounces of fully cooked kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb (not the top greens- though you can substitute celery here, too)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
10 cups canned low salt chicken broth
4 cups chopped kale (@ 1/2 bunch)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 9 oz. package of cheese tortellini (or 8 oz. dried pasta)
Asiago or Parmesan, to pass at the table
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute kielbasa for a minute, then add onion and fennel. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add garlic, thyme and red pepper; continue to cook until vegetables are soft and kielbasa is browned. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in kale and cannellini. reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Return to a gentle boil, then add tortellini. Cook for about 5 minutes (if using pasta, cook until al dente, around 7-10 minutes, depending on pasta shape). Serve hot.