So many good things come from my visits to the farmers’ market — and the fresh, local produce and products are only the start. This substantial, supremely satisfying soup recipe came home with me on a bright, golden-colored piece of paper, shared with me at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market by my friends Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley, the cheesemongers/owners of Chapel Hill Creamery.Chapel Hill Creamery is a 37-acre dairy farm they started in the year 2000 in rural Orange County, NC, They milk Jersey cows and produce a wide array of excellent cheeses available at farmers’ markets and in stores and through CSA’s around the Triangle region of North Carolina.
Their jersey cows produce rich, excellent milk for their award winning cheese, but the production of said cheese produces plenty of whey. To put all that whey to good use, they raise pigs, and offer sausages and pork along with their cheese.
I bought some Italian-style sausage from Flo on a recent Saturday, and took a copy of their recipe for this winter-winning soup, almost a stew, which we love and have made several times. It’s quick, the kind of soup that makes itself while you chop a little, stir a little, add this, then that, and let it all simmer while the rest of the meal comes together. Tonight I had collards left from our New Years Day good luck meal, so I used those instead of kale. I thought I picked up canellini beans at the store, but turns out they were gigantic lima beans, but that worked out just fine. Any crumbly well-seasoned sausage works fine here, but hot Italian-style sausage is my favorite.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¾ pound hot Italian-style sausage, or another crumbly sausage
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 large carrot, shredded and sliced or chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 can (15 ounce) chopped tomatoes, juice and all
- 1 small bunch kale or collards, stemmed and chopped, about 2 cups
- ½ cup water
- 1 can (15 ounce) canellini beans or navy beans or white beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- To begin, remove casings from sausage if using link sausage. Chop onions, carrots, and kale or collards.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven, 2 or 3 quarts.
- Crumble in the sausage and cook, pressing and turning and chopping to break it up into small pieces and help it brown evenly. Remove cooked sausage to a mediuim bowl, leaving the fat behind in the pan, and set the meat aside.
- Add onions and cook, stirring often, until tender. shiny, and fragrant.
- Add the carrots and cook 2 minutes more, stirring now and then.
- Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, kale or collards, and water and stir well.
- Bring to a lively boil and then adjust heat to maintain a good simmer. Cook 10 minutes.
- Add the beans, salt and pepper, along with the sausage, including all its juices.
- Bring to a lively boil, stir well, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Serve hot or warm.