Fall in Rapid City is kinda crazy. The weather here is incredibly unpredictable. The fun? thing about that is we could have snow on hmmm… Labor Day for example, and then by Friday it’s warmed up enough to wear flip flops. This is 2020 and while I should know better than to let anything shock me, in September when we got snow, I was horrified. I had just put the kids in bed and gotten out of the shower to a quiet house and everything was right with the world until Michael texted me from work.
One reason we survived the unexpected snow storm was because I now have go-to recipes that scream “Comfort food during a winter crises!” I also have wine in the pantry and a large stewpot to ensure a happy cooking experience.
Last year when the kids were in school (those good old days when my kids went to school) I laced up my snow boots and went to TJ Maxx for no reason other than to get out of the house. (Those good old days when we could shop for nonessential items without masks and without feeling guilty.)
I came home with a beautiful teal soup pot that was admittedly unnecessary, but at the same time completely fun. When Michael got home as he shut the garage door he said, “Oh it smells good in here…” and then raised his eyebrows as he rounded the corner and saw me stirring deliciousness in a giant new pot.
I smiled and batted my eyelashes. “It’s my hygge pot, Michael. I needed a hygge pot for soups and things.” I think he was still skeptical but he laughed and went with it anyway.
This soup is simple to make and extremely delicious. They serve it at Olive Garden, but I’m not sure how close it compares because I’ve never had it there. To me, Olive Garden is about the salad and breadsticks, baby. The Italian sausage and the red pepper flakes give it a slight kick. The kale makes you feel like you’re being healthy and making good choices (despite the heavy cream that’s also added.) The hardest part of making this soup is washing the kale and cutting out the tough stems from the middle of the leaves. I actually avoided this the other day by buying organic baby kale that was prewashed and it worked just as well.
Moral of the story… in 2020 anything can happen including snow in September. When life gives you snowflakes . . . make soup in a pretty stockpot.
- 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (I like mild and usually only use 1 package which is about a pound)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (plus more for topping later)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced OR 2 teaspoons pre-minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups milk (I use 1% but any will do)
- 2 pounds russet potatoes or gold potatoes, sliced
- 1 large bunch kale (about 5 cups) OR a package of baby kale which will save you some chopping fuss)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded + more for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, add 1 or 1 and 1/2 pounds sausage over medium high heat. You can use mild sausage or a combination of hot and mild.
- Add 1 large onion, chopped. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage.
- Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (remember you can always add more later). Continue sautéing for about 7-10 minutes, until the sausage is thoroughly cooked.
- Add 4 cloves of minced garlic. Sauté for one more minute, until garlic is fragrant.
- Turn off the heat and drain the grease from the soup pot. (Depending on the type of sausage you buy this could be unnecessary. I’ve been buying mine from the meat counter at the grocery store and it doesn’t leave enough fat to drain.)
- Turn the heat back on to medium high and stir in 2 tablespoons flour.
- Once the flour is incorporated, slowly add 4 cups of chicken broth while stirring. You want the flour to thicken the broth, not get clumpy, so go slow.
- Slowly add 3 cups of whole milk while stirring.
- Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick coins. (A food processor simplifies this!)
- Add the potatoes to the pot. Turn the heat down to medium and bring to a low boil.
- Once the soup is at a low simmer, continue simmering for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Meanwhile, prep the kale. Wash it well and use a sharp knife to cut out the thick stems all the way up the leaf. Tear or cut the kale into bite size pieces. (If you opted for the baby kale you get to skip this step! Just dump it in your pot!)
- When the potatoes are tender, add the kale to the soup.
- Add two cups of cream and stir very gently. You don’t want to demolish all of your nice tender potatoes. Just move your spoon around enough so that all the kale is mostly covered with liquid.
- Turn the heat to low and let cook for another 15 minutes, until the kale is wilted.
- Gently stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
- Serve with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, extra red pepper flakes, and/or fresh cracked pepper.