The other day, when the snow was coming down and I needed something to warm me to the bones, something I could eat with bread and accompany with a dark beer, something that felt just right eating in a really big cozy sweater with Caleb beside me while watching an indie drama, I made a soup. I always think that soup fits moods like these, when I want to eat something while sitting on a couch wrapped in plenty of blankets.
My soups always have multiple forms of carbs, and they are always made up on the spot. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a soup that I had a recipe for, besides when I was in school. Some of my soups have ended up tasting like little more than water and something vaguely like a vegetable with a hint of salt. I’m not proud of these, especially because I hate wasting foods, but these can’t be helped much. But this soup was a fairly good specimen. It was flavorful, rich, hearty, with pasta and potatoes, bacon and sausage, and enough vegetables to be considered healthy, even though the broth is luxurious with the addition of cream.
Potato Kale Soup with Orecchiette
Makes 3 large bowls
3 slices bacon, cut into thin shreds
2 kielbasa sausages, cut in 1/4″ thick half circle shapes
1 large yellow onion, 1/4″ dice
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed in a garlic press
2 medium sized russet potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
1 can corn kernels, drained
3 cups beef broth
water, as needed
salt and pepper, to taste
4 or 5 large kale leaves, stems removed, chopped
5 stems fresh basil, chiffonade*
1/2 cup Orecchiette, dry
1/3 cup heavy cream
smoked paprika, as needed
In a medium sized pot over medium high heat, brown the bacon until almost crisp. Add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is browning on the edges and the bacon is crisp, stirring almost constantly. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and sausage from the pot, reserving it in a small dish until the end. Leave the grease in the pot and add the onion. Cook for about three minutes, until translucent and aromatic. Add the garlic and saute for one minute until fragrant.
Add the potatoes and corn, stirring until combined. Pour in the beef broth, and if needed, additional water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer. After about eight minutes, add salt and pepper to season. Add the kale, the orecchiette, and the basil. Cook for about 10 minutes more. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper as needed. At this point, keep the soup at a gentle simmer over medium low heat. Drizzle in the cream while stirring gently. When the cream is combined, add the paprika, a pinch at a time, until the broth glows with rosiness. You want it to be a mellow orange with a light hint of paprika fragrance. When the orecchiette and the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, place the bacon and sausage back into the pot and stir until distributed (you’ll want some of the meat in each bite). Eat the soup while it is still very hot.
Caleb and I ate this with garlic bread, and it was perfect. I’m not a soup and salad person, I’m a soup and bread person. Enjoy.
*orecchiette is a small pasta, shaped like a half clam shell. In Italian, the word literally means “little ears”!