This month, for a multitude of reasons mostly having to do with nesting, cooling weather and the reemergence of pumpkins, but also because I like salty things, I have decided to embark on a little month-long cooking adventure that I call – wait for it – SOUPTOBER.
I’ll bet you can’t guess what it is.
Basically, I really like to make soup. Especially in the autumn, when it’s almost a necessity to have your house smelling really, really good at all times. (Sidebar: These help too). In this, The Season of the Liquid Meal, I have a lot of favorite standbys that are both delish and fairly old hat, but there are so very many other options out there that I want to try. Because of this, I somehow got it in my occasionally excitable head that I will make nothing but soup until Halloween.
I spent a good part of a day last week drooling, mauling my way through soup cookbooks and putting paperclips on every other page. An incredibly patient man, who will remain nameless, had to pretend - repeatedly - to be very excited as I went through and told him about each one in rabid detail. It goes without saying that he is not quite as enthusiastic as I am about me cooking nothing but soup for 30 days.
Speaking of, I considered making this a 30-soups-in-30-days kind of deal, but all I see in that scenario is just a whole lot of leftover soup. I mean, isn’t the point just to make a really big pot? Everyone knows that it always tastes better the day after, anyway. To that end, I’m going to be operating on a whenever-I-can-make-another-batch-without-throwing-away-leftovers schedule. I may or may not be giving away a whole lot of soup if you know me and want to swing by with a tupperware.
A lot of the recipes that I’m interested in trying stem from this gorgeous behemoth. It is marvelous, both as a foundation and as a guide and you can purchase it right here, from an independent Portland bookseller who actually needs your money. I also will be doing a fair amount of inventing, as many surprise ingredients will be delivered from my amazing Zenger Farms CSA, which runs into November. Each week, I’ll choose the best recipe of the lot and post it here.
The first submission is an invention, mostly dictated by a bunch of things that I had in my fridge and wanted to get rid of, but it is still rully, rully good. One of my favorite things about soups is that you have an amazing license to get creative and it’s pretty dang hard to ruin them (Unless you over-salt. Take it from a compulsive salter and sprinkle with care). Yes, I do realize that I technically started a wee bit before October first, but I got super excited and couldn’t wait.
See what I did there? Super? Souper? No? I’ll stop.
Anyway: Recipe #1. LET THE SOUPTOBER CELEBRATIONS BEGIN!
GRETA’S SAUSAGE, KALE AND POTATO SOUP
1 lb seasoned sausage (I had a bunch of different ones left over from a recent bbq, so I ended up using one chorizo, two brats and one kielbasa, but any good, flavorful sausage will do) – casings removed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or two small bunches of fresh kale, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces
4-6 red potatoes, skins on, scrubbed, sliced to 1/4” and quartered
½ cup plus two tablespoons white wine (does ANYONE actually pay attention when recipes say to use a “dry white wine” or “full-bodied red wine, such as blahblah…? I will use whatever the heck I’ve got when I’m cooking - this time around it was pinot grigio - and save the god stuff for my glass.)
1 cup of jarlsberg or swiss cheese, grated
8 cups broth (chicken or beef will both be fine – I put in four cups of each to prevent it from being too overwhelming one way or another)
2 tbls butter or olive oil
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp nutmeg, plus more to taste
Salt and pepper
Sautee the sausage in a dutch oven or large pot on medium high until crisp. Remove from the hot pan and set aside.
Keep the pan on medium high and deglaze with ½ cup white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up yummy brown bits.
Reduce heat to medium and add 2 tbls butter (or olive oil) to the pan.
Sautee onions and garlic until soft and well caramelized, but at a low enough heat that they don’t burn. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the kale in batches, allowing it to wilt down as it cooks. Add the remaining 2 tbls (or more, if you want more of a vino taste) of white wine a bit at a time. Cook until very green and fully wilted.
Add the sliced potatoes and stock and bring to a low boil.
When the potatoes are crisp tender, reduce the heat to medium low.
Ladle about half of the soup into a cuisinart or food processor (use solids, so it won’t leak) and blend until mostly smooth. This gives it that nice creamy flavor (and a good color) without actually using cream. You can also use an immersion blender if you have one, you lucky dog.
Add the blended portion back into the pot, along with the cooked sausage, the cheese, the bay leaves and nutmeg. Simmer slowly until the potatoes are cooked through and season with more salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
I tend to like to cook soups for a while to meld all the flavors, so I turned it on the lowest setting and let it go for another 45 minutes, but it’s really not particularly necessary. You can serve it as soon as the taters are cooked to your preference. It’s a pretty salty recipe, so a nice crusty break to soak up your broth with would not go amiss.
For a low-cal version, use a lean chicken or turkey sausage and omit the cheese and wine (if you need more moisture you can use water, stock or a little lemon juice as you’re wilting the kale).
For a veggie version, use a soy sausage and vegetable broth.
If you want a little more heft, try adding a nice white bean, like cannellini, pre-blend, when you put in the potatoes.
This month is all about trying new soupy-delicious things, so if you’re up for doing some experimenting of your own, please share your thoughts and ideas with me!
Soon to come: French Onion. Because bread, cognac and cheese.
Photography by Brett Stevens
Did I say Souptober yet? I’m going to say it again. SOUPTOBER!
PS - My sweetie just came in and told me that we need to think of a word that combines "Soup" and "Blogging", in order to describe what I'll be doing this month. Upon discussion we decided that the answer, quite obviously, is "Blooping".