Here’s a soup to warm your bones after raking autumn leaves, toting in firewood, or playing football in the yard. We make it a nutritious meal-in-a-bowl by adding a leafy cooking green, such as kale, spinach, turnip greens or Swiss chard.
Any sausage will provide a hearty meat element, but we especially like the deep, slightly spicy flavor of kielbasa. Traditional in Poland, kielbasa is usually sold tied in a loop, weighing about 1 pound. Some brands are a bit bland, and if you can’t find one you like locally, try the kielbasa from Harrington’s of Vermont. We sometimes use the whole loop, but even if you omit the meat altogether, this will still be a sturdy, fortifying dish.
• 1/2 pound kielbasa sausage
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cups chopped leeks (about 4 medium leeks)
• 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
• 8 medium kale leaves
• 2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, cut into cubes
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or pressed
• 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Cut the kielbasa into rounds 1/4-inch thick. Pour the olive oil into a medium skillet and fry the rounds on both sides to brown them, taking care not to burn them, over medium heat. Leave the fat in the skillet and transfer the kielbasa to a Dutch oven or heavy casserole. Trim and discard the leeks’ green tops and split the white shanks lengthwise, then rinse to remove all traces of soil. Chop into 1-inch pieces and add to the skillet along with salt. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring often and checking to make sure the leeks don’t burn or stick to the pan; add a little water if needed. After about 10 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of water, stir, and add the leeks to the sausage, scraping the skillet with a spatula to get all the tasty brown bits.
2. Strip the kale leaves from the tough stems and ribs, and then chop the leaves. Add them to the sausage and leeks along with the potatoes, garlic, thyme, bay, sage, pepper and 3 cups of water. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender and have absorbed the various flavors — about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream, and taste for salt and pepper.
3. Or, to serve later, remove from heat and refrigerate. Just before serving, heat the soup to just under a simmer, and stir in the cream, salt and pepper. Serve the soup piping hot.
Want to learn more about cooking with potatoes and garlic? Read Growing and Cooking with Potatoes and Garlic for delicious ideas and recipes.
Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, where sturdy bowls of potato soup frequently chase the chill on cool, fall evenings. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.