As we approach mid-winter, it’s a great time to think about making soup. One of my favorites is a version of Portuguese kale soup. This is a hearty concoction that has as its base a standard 15-bean recipe found in a bag on your local grocer’s shelf. My wife and I first tasted Portuguese kale soup when we were visiting Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts about 25 years ago, and we’ve been in love with it ever since. Here’s what you’ll need:
• 1 16 oz. bag of generic 15-bean soup mix (it contains a pound of beans and a flavor packet)
• 1 pound fresh kale
• 1 large vidalia onion
• 6 cloves garlic
• 1 pound Chorizo sausage links or other spicy sausage
• salt & pepper to taste (start with 1 teaspoon each)
• 1 30-oz. can crushed tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 stalks celery, chopped in 1/2″ pieces
• 2 bay leaves
• 8 oz. cooked tubetti macaroni
• 1 large baking potato, peeled, and diced
• 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
• Using a large soup pot, follow the directions on the package for making the 15-bean soup, using the olive oil to brown the Chorizo, onions, celery, and garlic (the recipe will call for a ham hock or other smoked meat, but substitute the Chorizo instead)
• Add the potato, bay leaf, salt, pepper, wine, and crushed tomato to the soup, bring it to a boil. Then, lower the flame and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
• Wash the kale thoroughly at least two times. Then, break apart into 1 or 2″ pieces and add half to the soup *(retain the other half to serve with leftovers), letting it continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Do not overcook, or the kale will lose its crispness.
• Divide the cooked macaroni evenly into four soup bowls, fill with the soup and add grated parmesan cheese to taste
• Serve with grilled muenster cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread with a glass of hearty red wine, like a sharaz or merlot
*Be sure to include all the cooked kale when you serve the soup (leftover soup can be frozen for use later with the remainder of the uncooked kale. Simply bring the leftover soup to a boil, add the kale and cook for 10 minutes at a simmer)
NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. All four are available in paperback and E-book. As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises soon to follow.