The Easiest Winter “Recipes”

Last week when I talked about my cooking hacks and shared our meal plan for the week I promised to post the recipe for the Sausage and Kale soup that I make. I hate to post a recipe without any pictures but I had already made the soup last week and it gets dark now at about 2pm so it’s very difficult to get good cooking/food pictures. So I’m going to share two recipes with zero pictures. These are two of the quickest/easiest recipes in my arsenal and we eat one or both of these things almost every week in the winter. This soup recipe is one that I “came up with” years ago and some friends asked me to write it down for them. I’m pretty sure that at least one of them still makes this soup pretty often. I’m almost embarrassed to call these recipes because they are both really simple and you can mix and match the ingredients to make them suit your own tastes. These two “recipes” are a good example of things that you could cook at the same time, and if you aren’t bothered by repetition you could honestly eat these two things all week long (or at least I could).

Sausage and Kale Soup

Ingredients

  • 1lb Mild Italian Sausage, buy bulk sausage or remove from casing (we use pork sausage but chicken will also work)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • ***You can also buy the Mirepoix container from Trader Joe’s and save yourself the chopping time!
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped (or one bag of chopped kale)
  • 2 quarts of chicken broth (we like the Pacific Brand Chicken Bone Broth)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Options

  • 1 can cannelini/great northern beans drained and rinsed, these are a good addition if you eat beans
  • Parmesan cheese rind in the soup while it’s cooking + grated parmesan cheese is super tasty if you tolerate dairy

Directions

  • Brown sausage in a stockpot or dutch oven on med/high heat. You want to make sure that you really let the sausage brown and get some good crispy bits on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and kale (you’re pot might be very full now, but the kale will cook down). If you’re using the cannelini beans and/or parmesan rind then go ahead and add those now as well. Basically it’s everything in the pot time.
  • Let the soup cook on medium for as long as you can, the longer it cooks the better it will taste but it will be good after 15-20 minutes.
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste- you will need to add salt so don’t skip this step or the soup will NOT taste good!
  • Remove the parmesan rind before serving! This soup tastes really good with grated parmesan on top (ahhh memories), if you’re feeling fancy go ahead and make a salad to go with it but there’s already kale in it so don’t feel like you’re obligated.

Okay, so here are some additional notes about soup- Number one, it’s pretty hard to mess it up, but you do need to taste it because soup can taste pretty blah until you get the right amount of salt. Add a pinch of salt, stir, taste, add another pinch of salt- you get the picture, just do this until it tastes good! And number two, you can play around with the ingredients, like a lot! For instance, what if you don’t have a yellow onion? Do you have a leek, shallot, a fennel bulb? Chop them up and throw them in! Do you want to try a different kind of sausage?! Go for it! Do you want to add some chopped up chicken breast instead? Go ahead- you will probably need a bit more seasoning! Do you have swiss chard, spinach, collards instead of kale? Great!! Are you vegetarian/vegan? Omit the meat, switch to vegetable stock and carry on! Soup is your friend, and honestly what’s better on a cold winter day?

Sweet Potato Hash

  • 1 large or 2 smallish sweet potatoes (sometimes you can get some monster sweet potatoes, so just use your best judgement)- either diced or grated (grated cooks faster but will have a softer texture)
  • ½ lb of sausage (any flavor) or 1pkg of bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped (or 1 bag of chopped kale)
  • Anything else that you want to add! Peppers, leeks, herbs, apple
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Brown your sausage or bacon in a cast iron skillet- remove and set aside.
  • If you’re using diced sweet potatoes then cook those in the remaining fat first- let them get a little crispy and then remove and set aside.
  • Saute your onion and garlic, and any other aromatics/vegetables you’re adding (if you’re using the grated sweet potato, it can go in with your onions/garlic).
  • Add your kale and let it cook down.
  • Add your sausage/bacon and sweet potatoes back to the pan and stir everything together.
  • Season to taste and serve on it’s own or topped with a fried egg. The yolk from the fried egg really does add to this dish!

Some good combinations to try:

  • Italian sausage, leeks, garlic, kale, parsley
  • Breakfast sausage, onion, garlic, apple, sage
  • Chorizo, bell peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro
  • Vegetarian? Use all vegetables and bump up the herb component!

What if you don’t like/don’t tolerate sweet potatoes? White potatoes will work great for this or diced turnips/rutebaga is another good substitute!

Last note: You will notice that both of these recipes call for sausage- look for a high quality sausage! No added nitrates and the ingredients should just be meat, and some seasonings- garlic, herbs, maybe some maple syrup depending the the type of sausage. You don’t want to buy sausage that has a ton of weird ingredients in it. Also look for pasture raised pork/chicken! 

Hopefully you enjoy these “recipes” and feel inspired to get into the kitchen. It’s not a scary place, I promise!

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