Recipe of the Week: Dorina's Italian Chicken Sausage & Kale Soup

This time of year - when colds are plentiful and the air has that memorable chill - all I'm thinking about is SOUP! After perusing many Italian sausage soup recipes, I decided to create my own healthy variety and it was a big hit with the family. The great thing about this recipe is it uses kale, which you can find fresh at the local farmer's market this season. Kale has huge health benefits, including being rich in beta-carotene (which protects against diseases of the skin) and a host of vitamins. One article on TheFoodPaper.com says, "The boost in immune support and antioxidant protection provided by these vitamins could help ward off the colds and flus of the season, not to mention more serious diseases."

Italian Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 red potatoes, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes (or fresh, of course, if they're in season)
2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups (cage free, organic) chicken broth
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 package Italian Chicken Sausage, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Trader Joe's Wine & Cheese Chicken Sausage and baked it in the oven for 30 minutes. Some varieties are already fully cooked when you buy them.)

2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used rotini - the curly Qs)

3 cups thinly sliced kale (green or purple)
1 15-oz can canellini beans (or dried and cooked if you want to save some $$)

Garnish: Shaved parmesan cheese

1. Add olive oil to a large stock pot and turn to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, chop all vegetables.
2. Sweat (like saute but in a big pot) the veggies with the garlic until soft.
3. Add chicken broth, spices and sausage. Bring to a boil and add pasta. Boil approximately 8 minutes until noodles are tender.
4. Reduce heat and add kale and beans to pot. Cook an additional 10 minutes.
5. Serve with shaved parmesan cheese for garnish.

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