I didn’t actually think I’d be sharing this soup. It’s rather homely, as you can see. Not a show-stopper by any means. It’s actually quite a mishmash little bowl of things. A hodgepodge, a kitchen sink, inspired by at least a half-dozen other recipes. I expected it to be satisfying, soul-satisfying even, in the porridge-y comfort food way we’re all needing as we stare out at the utter lack of spring around here. But, I didn’t expect it to be something I’d be compelled to share. Yet, here I am, happily wrong, because people, this soup is yummy! Better than expected. More delicious, even, than I’d hoped.
This soup – if you can even call it that given its silky, thick, nicely starchy heft (it does use risotto rice, after all) – has its roots in a recipe that has been called genius (it has also been called soup-ish, which I think is an accurate descriptor), a recipe for smothered cabbage and rice from the inimitable Marcella Hazan. I defy you to come up with something from Marcella that isn’t genius, really. The cabbage version of this soup(ish) has also been extolled by Luisa, and Molly, both women of good taste.
Then I saw Tara reference Marcella’s soup as she talked about her own soup(ish) of kale, risotto, and quinoa. And that got me to thinking about kale. It’s possible we all think too much about kale these days, but given that our thoughts could be in far less wholesome places, and because kale is tasty no matter how trendy, or twee, or on its way out and no longer trendy it may be, I bought two bunches of it.
And while I had two bunches of it, my mind wandered also to Suzanne Goin’s braised kale, and the slowly stewed greens of Paula Wolfert’s panade. And to sausage and kale soup, simply because that is a well trod path within my mind.
In this steaming pot, I combined all those ideas into one. Hearty broth swims with plump grains of arborio rice that make it thick and creamy. Butter and just a titch of Parmesan enriches and softens the flavors further. The kale, cooked until placid and silky, is jazzed up with anchovy and pepper flakes. The slices of smokey kielbasa add another little jolt of heat so the soup is equal parts softness and spice.
Even with just the two of us – our third family member is just foraying into the world of purees. A messy world indeed. – the pot did not last long.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 anchovy fillets, chopped
- a couple crumbled chiles de arbol or a couple pinches red pepper flakes
- 2 bunches of kale (or one very large bunch), washed and sliced into ribbons
- 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
- 6 cups good quality (preferably homemade) chicken stock
- ⅔ cup arborio rice
- ¾ lb. kielbasa sausage, cut into ½-inch thick rounds
- 2 Tbs. butter
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Stir in the chopped onion and cook until deeply golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, anchovies, and chiles/pepper flakes and cook about 2 minutes more.
- Add the sliced kale and a sprinkling of salt. Stir in the sherry vinegar, then cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat down to low. Let the kale slowly cook for an hour. At this point it should be very soft and silky.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil, then stir in the rice. Turn the heat down a bit, and keep cooking at a gentle but steady boil until the rice is plump and tender, about 20 minutes. During this time the soup should thicken so it's stewy, but still somewhat brothy.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the slices of sausage. When the soup is done, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan plus salt and pepper to taste. Serve.