A Wedding Soup
This recipe is a marriage between a White Bean and an Italian Wedding soup. The inspiration stemmed from an intense craving for a white bean and kale soup. My mother-in-law, Lorraine, makes a delicious rendition. I remember it being a rainy cold day in Vancouver, and she made it with beautiful kale from her garden. It was scrumptiously satisfying; hearty and yet light in the belly. I was determined on duplicating that deliciousness.
Today I set off to the store for the ingredients I believed necessary for the soup (since I rarely follow a recipe). I went home and ended up cooking other meals that day and yet still.....no soup. Another day passed, and my craving developed to a full on obsession. My kale bean soup fantasy continued to evolve. First by adding sweet italian sausage to the recipe, then fennel, a white wine reduction, and then an herb bouquet of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Lastly, the Israeli cous cous was the perfect finishing touch.
The foundation of this recipe is the sofrito of onion and fennel. Sweat the arromatics and when they start to golden, you know its time to add the garlic and sweet italian sausage. I chose a sausage with fennel which infuses the ground meat with an interesting flavor and adds a dimension of complexity to the soup. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the cassings and sauté with the sofrito breaking up the meat into bite size chunks with the edge of a wooden spoon. If you choose to make this dish vegetarian, you can add 2 extra cups of veggies or legumes. For example, you can add more fennel, an extra can of beans, or maybe potatoes. Add the bouquet of herbs.
When the sausage begins to brown, deglaze the pot with the white wine. Your kitchen now smells devine. Allow the concoction to simmer and ingredients to socialize for a few minutes. It might be an appropriate time to pour yourself a glass of white wine. Now, add the rest of the ingredients and prep the Kale. Rip the kale off the stem like so...
It is my humble opinion, it is criminal to leave behind perfectly useable greens on the stem. If you are working in my kitchen, be prepared to hear a comment if you leave some behind.. So hold the stem strongly, and with your dominant hand pull briskly. You should be left with...nothing but stems.
Rough cut the kale and add the Israeli cous cous. Are you familiar with it? Israeli cous cous is essentially baby pasta beads which engorge themselves with whatever yummy liquid you cook them in. In this soup...the cous cous is like officiant at this here wedding. Let this all simmer as long it takes to wed and....
you may now kiss the bride!
The soup turned out to be everything I dreamed up and more. Like a marriage or a union between two loves, sometimes two good things inspire each other to make something better. Each on their own can still be beautiful and complete, but together they make something magical, or in this case, delicious!
Please do yourself a favor and make this soup recipe as soon as possible. Like now! Buy yourself a beautiful bread loaf, or some crackers, and a perfect avocado. Spread the avocado a la mode onto your crispy vehicle of choice. Don't forget to sprinkle a pinch of sea salt. Pour yourself another glass of white wine, serve yourself a bowl of the wedding soup, and thank me later.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 spanish onion- diced
1/2 cup fennel-diced
7 garlic cloves- minced
1 lb sweet italian sausage
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 herb bouquet-2 sprigs of rosemary, thyme ,and sage tied together with cooking twine
1/2 cup white wine
2 15oz cans of great northern beans-rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
4 cups Kale
1 cup Israeli cous cous
Heat a heavy pot or dutch oven on med heat and add olive oil. Saute onions and fennel until transparent and golden. Add garlic and sausage. Remove the sausage from the casing by squeezing. Discard the casings. Chop the sausage in the pot with a wooden spoon until the meat is in bite size pieces. Add the herb bouquet and cook until the sausage is mostly cooked through. Deglaze the pot with the white wine, scrapping any bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes.