November 11, 2010

My Favorite Sausage and Kale Soup

After many requests...I have finally added this oh so yummy soup to my blog.  Of all the soups I have tasted and posted on...this is my favorite.  I can't say for sure why it's just that the combination of the sweet Italian sausage along with the kale (and lots of it) in this decadent velvety broth, just hits the spot all the time.  I could seriously eat this one every day.  You can pretty much always  find this either frozen in my freezer or ready to go in my fridge.  Lately, it seems that a week does not go buy that this soup is not being made in my kitchen.  In fact, it's almost automatic, my list would not be complete if this soup was not made.  On top of the already long list of soups and recipes that I want to create and share with you, which are many!

Seeing as I have made this very often, I  have played around with the ingredients...water versus broth, different flavored sausages (spicy versus not spicy),  milk versus cream....and this version is by far the best!  I mean really... what isn't good with cream added at the end?  

The key players in this soup is the sweet Italian sausage, lots of kale, onions, potatoes, and cream...just enough to add color and a slight viscosity...remember that is not a cream soup, it is more a brothy soup, but that slight added richness makes for a very inviting taste.

So enough talk...lets get started!

Pairing Suggestion:  I love Pinot Noir with this! 

My Favorite Sausage and Kale Soup
serves 6-8


1 tbsp light olive oil
3-4 Links or 1 1/2 pounds of Sweet Italian Sausage (I use chicken sausage quite a bit to cut down on the fat)
1 large or 2  medium potatoes, peeled and diced (you can add 2 cans white or cannellini beans instead)
1 large white or yellow onion chopped
3 garlic cloves (I love garlic, you can use less if you want)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to your liking)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste 
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper 
2 quarts of chicken stock/broth
2 cups of water
2 bunches of kale, washed, and torn into bite size pieces (stem removed)
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg (I love this addition with any dark leafy green)
1/4 cup cream


Heat olive oil in soup pot with onions,  garlic and potatoes over medium heat.  Saute all until soft, but not mushy, about 10 minutes.  

Add sausage meat squeezed out of its casing.  Cook sausage meat with the vegetables for about 5 minutes till all the meat is crumbled and separated.  

Add the basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Cook for another 7 minutes then add the broth and water.

Bring to a boil.  Once its at a rolling boil, add all the kale.  Cook for 10 minutes longer, then add your grated nutmeg and cream.  Check for seasoning here and add salt and pepper to your liking. 

Now it's time to enjoy.  Oh, and this soup gets better as it sits and melds together.  


November 10, 2010

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian. In cuisine, "alla cacciatora" refers to a meal prepared "hunter-style" with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, herbs, often bell pepper, and sometimes wine ( I say always wine). 

Nothing can be more comforting to me than a dish braising away in one pot, where you have meat, veggies, and wine melding together for quite a bit of time.  Your end result is nothing but perfect harmonious bites of goodness.  Add some crusty bread and a great wine, and you've got yourself a magical meal to savor in.  

The Pioneer Woman did just that, with this very easy recipe, and once I tried it, I couldn't wait to share it with you.  

Come on, how can you resist crispy chicken braised in a delicate tomato sauce laden with mushrooms and peppers...all served over buttery egg noodles?   I know I can't.  I look forward to using duck instead of chicken the next time I make this.  

Oh, and the best part... my 3 year old daughter loved this chicken and even she couldn't resist this scrumptious dish.  

Check out Ree's fantastic  is one of my faves.  The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Pairing Suggestion: A nice earthy Zinfandel would be great here.  If you're in the mood for a lighter red, go for Pinot Noir.  

Chicken Cacciatore
Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 4-6 

1 pound egg noodles or pasta (once cooked, I add a little butter and fresh chopped parsley and chives)
8 whole chicken thighs, skin on (would be great with duck too)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 whole medium onion, halved and sliced
2 whole red bell peppers, cored and sliced (not too thin)
2 whole green bell peppers, cored and sliced (not too thin)
5 cloves of garlic, diced (I used 8 cloves...I love garlic...what can I say)
12 ounces mushrooms (white or crimini), sliced
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp kosher salt
crushed red pepper flakes, (to taste and optional) (I used 1/2 tsp
3/4 cup dry white wine (I used 3/4 sherry wine)
1 can (28 ounce) whole or diced tomatoes (with their juice)
chopped flat leaf parsley
parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Do not overcook!  Drain and set aside (this can be done when you are simmering your juices to make your sauce.

Salt and pepper both sides of chicken.  Dredge chicken in flour.  Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven on the stove top over medium-high heat.  Place chicken skin side down in pan, four pieces at a time.  Brown chicken on both sides ( the crispier, the better), then remove to a clean plate.  Repeat with remaining chicken.  Pour off half the fat in the pan and discard.  

Add sliced onions and peppers, as well as the garlic, stir around for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and stir for another minute.  Add thyme, turmeric and salt.  If you are using crushed red pepper, this is where you would add..go on...give it a little kick!  Add extra black pepper to taste.  Stir, then pour in wine.  Allow to bubble.

Pour in canned tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add chicken back into the pan, skin side up, without totally submerging the chicken.  Place lid on the pot and put it into the oven for 45 minutes.  Remove lid and increase heat to 375 degrees.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven.  Remove chicken from the pot and place it on a plate.  Remove vegetables from pot and place them on a plate.  Return pot to burner and turn heat to medium high.  Cook and reduce sauce for a couple of minutes. 

Pour cooked, drained noodles on a large platter or in a big serving bowl.  Add vegetables all over the top, then place chicken pieces on top of the vegetables.  Spoon juices from the pot over the chicken and egg noodles (amount to taste.)

Before serving, sprinkle on chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan.

Do nothing but enjoy your meal!!