spicy sausage, kale, and potato soup

I have arctic roots, and so fall is supposed to be soup season. I don't know what to make in soup season other than soup. I've always made soup. but los angeles, I've discovered, is not a soup place. nobody eats it. nobody makes it. maybe because it's the equivalent of running the heat in the car with the windows down on a 90° day? maybe?

yep. it's hot. it's hot in los angeles as the rest of the earth is about to get autumn crispy and I'm complaining because I am ungrateful and lost. 

not wanting to let weather order me into abandoning ritual, I started experimenting with lighter-weight versions of heartier-leaning soups, and banked on the nights being colder than the days anyway. this one was inspired by a recipe from The Candid Appetite, in a post (fittingly) lamenting the unique difficulty of coming up with interesting shit to make for dinner all the time. his turns out creamier and a little heartier; this one is brothy and clear and on the lighter side for a food containing a lot of potato. both ways are nice. I slightly prefer how this one reheats for lunch.

RECIPE

Effortful time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

YOU NEED

  • 1 lb. bulk hot italian chicken sausage (or links, removed from casings)
  • 1 lb. fingerling or yukon gold potatoes, chopped in 1" chunks
  • 4 big handfuls of tuscan kale, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine, optional

MAKE IT

  1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken sausage, breaking up the chunks as you go, until fully browned. Strain it into a bowl and throw some foil over it.
  2. Lower the heat to medium. Add butter, then onions, and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Splash in the white wine, if using, to deglaze the brown gunk from the sausage (if you're not using wine, just use some chicken broth early).
  3. Add the oregano sprig, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Then throw in the potatoes, and sauté to coat with butter. (note: I've experimented with beating the chunks up a bit with a metal fork in a metal bowl to help create a less-neat texture in the past. something to try...)
  4. Add handfuls of the black kale, stirring so that it wilts into itself and makes more space. Continue cooking until the kale is glossy and soft. Pull out the oregano stems. Put the sausage back into the pot, where it belongs.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust the seasonings a final time (potatoes are known  and serve.