tomato and sausage stew with kale and orzo

Throwback to seven winters ago, when Sunday was a day devoted to nonfunctional recovery. A typical day involved sleeping until at least noon, usually in near-darkness, and wouldn’t often go much further than moving from bed to couch and getting my then-boyfriend (who is still my boyfriend, but less of a degenerate) to order BBQ delivery to my house. I would take a shower but sit on the floor while i washed my hair. And not because I was hungover — to know me is to know I have the alcohol tolerance of an ox — but because I was so burnt out that doing anything involving a cognitive function was borderline unthinkable. Laundry piled up for weeks until eventually I bought new underwear. Dinner was either defrosted or delivered by Dominos.

Today, I am an adult whose burnout prevention is a Sunday spent completing ritualized tasks and “preparing for the week ahead” via massive amounts of cooking, followed by massive amounts of cleaning, followed by a shower. Among these cooking tasks (a batch of 3-hour Instant Pot bone broth being one of them; a story for another day) is usually some sort of soupy, brothy, kale-containing concoction for dinner to really set the week down the right aspirational path.

The template is often the same: a ton of garlic and onion, a protein or two, a starchy thing, a green thing, a brothy binder, some savory accoutrement, and either a cream or zest factor (but not both). This week I was bored of lentils and chicken, and this little deviant was born: containing all the joy of a sausage pasta, but with a buttload of greens and a soupy quality that screams out into the void for bread to be dipped into it.

It goes great with a clean house, coolish weather, big aspirations for the week, and a comically large spoon.

tomato and sausage soup with kale and orzo | italian enough

RECIPE

Effortful time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4-6

YOU NEED

  • 1 lb. mild chicken sausage, removed from casings

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tbsp. double-concentrated tomato paste

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes — I used Pomi “finely chopped” and they were perfect

  • 1 1/2 cups (1 can) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 tsp. italian herb blend — or 1/2 tsp each parsley, thyme, basil, and oregano

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 parmesan rind, optional

  • 8 oz. orzo

  • 5 oz. chopped tuscan kale

  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream, optional but recommended

  • Cracked black pepper

  • Olive oil, for drizzling

  • Parmiggiano-reggiano, for serving

MAKE IT

  1. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. De-case and add the sausage in bite-sized pieces and brown, loosening the sausage from the bottom periodically. Do this for about 5 minutes. Remove sausage from pan.

  2. Lower the heat to medium. Using the same pot oil, sauté your onions until translucent, about 6 minutes.

  3. Add the minced garlic and quickly sauté until the garlic is softened but not toasted, under 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and herbs and stir to coat the onion/garlic mix (this will also help caramelize the raw tomato paste.) Add a splash of your stock here to deglaze the bottom bits, scraping up the sausage remnants. Return the sausage to the pot.

  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, and drained/rinsed beans. Tuck in the bay leaves, and get your parm rind nestled in there if you’re using one. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for about 30 minutes. It really can’t be “overcooked” — but the longer you cook it, the more your tomatoes will turn from red to that burnished orange that indicates magic has happened. I gave it about 35 minutes at this step because I got preoccupied with an episode of The Good Place.

  5. After 30ish minutes, add the dry orzo and chopped kale to the pot and stir. If things are looking dry or a lot of evaporation happened, add more stock or water to re-hydrate.

  6. Cook for 8 more minutes until the orzo is fully tender and the kale is very soft. While still over low heat, stir in the cream if you like. I really recommend it: using cream mellows everything out, softens the tomato bite, and takes the texture from brothy to lofty, but since it’s a small amount, adding it won’t turn it into a heavy soup brick.

  7. Serve each bowl with a drizzle of Good Olive Oil, a shaving of Good Parmesan, a crackling of Good Pepper, and marvel at the fact that you have no Bad Ingredients to use anymore because you are an adult who is fully self-actualized or whatever!