If you ask what’s Fresh From Oregon this week it seems like anytime you can get Kale. The Portland Farmers Winter Market is over flowing with all types of greens this time of year and the Kale is looking great. There are several types of Kale as you look around the market, Italian Kale, Red Russian Kale and Curly Kale just to name a few. I chose to use the Curly Kale in my soup. The recipe for Zuppa Toscana soup can be found all over the internet since this is a favorite soup sold at Olive Garden restaurants everyone wants to make it at home. I found one I liked the best on Mom On Time Out Blog and with a few changes created my version below. This is a very hearty soup and can be a meal in itself. This is no wimpy cracker soup, serve it with a great crusty bread and butter.
Zuppa Toscana Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage
8 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
4 large russet potatoes
2 cups water
3 cans of chicken broth
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (If you like it hotter add another teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
In large pot add the olive oil, sausage and bacon, cook over medium-high heat until the sausage and bacon are cooked and browned. Slice the potatoes about 1/4-inch thick, I use my mandolin to get an even cut, set aside. Once the sausage and bacon are cooked add the water and chicken broth to the pot. Add the potatoes, onions, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are cooked through about 30-40 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat. Add the kale and heavy cream and heat through about 5 minutes.
Kale is a form of cabbage, but the central leaves do not form a head. It is more related to the wild cabbage than the ones that are grown in our gardens.
Kale is a cold weather crop and you will mainly find it in the spring, fall and winter. It freezes well and taste sweeter and has more flavor after is has been exposed to a frost.
Kale can be used in soups, stews, salad, stir-fry’s and be dehydrated. It can be steamed and used as a side dish and also is one of the ingredients in the traditional Irish dish colcannon.