“Southern” Italian Wedding Soup

Mark Bittman (from the New York Times) has made the argument well that a family CAN cook at home for the same price as they can eat at the golden arches. He compared the costs directly and was able to prove with more than one example that it is possible to feed your family nutritious food for the same price as processed, empty calories found in a hamburger, french fries and a coke.

What was not calculated were the healthcare costs of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, loss of work and ultimately, early loss of life, that can easily be attributed to a steady diet of fast, processed food and lack of physical activity. As usual, the failings of society fall on the poor and uneducated, yet those who complain the loudest about the ever growing social safety net seem to promote and support the very industries that create this epidemic in the first place.

There are simple things that we can do to change this tide right now. Teach this recipe to someone at church, or work or down the block who doesn’t normally cook for their family. For a little over a dollar a serving, this soup is delicious, nutritious and fairly easy to make. It is a complete meal in itself. Once a person dirties a pot, feeds their family and still has a little money in their pocket, “drive thru” is no longer the only option.

This is a weekend project. There is nothing difficult about the process but it is time consuming. If you are making it for your family of 4 or 5 then you will have plenty of leftovers. If you have kids and they tend to have their friends over on the weekend, this is perfect. We had 8 last night and plenty of leftovers.

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1 lb, (a package) Dried Cannellini Beans
  • 4-5 Cups (1 bunch) Kale
  • 28 oz Can San Marzano Whole, Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1 Small Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 3 Carrots, chopped
  • 3 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Wine (or Beer)
  • 5 Spicy Italian Sausages, cut in coins
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 6 Fingerling Potatoes (or two large potatoes), diced
  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon All Spice
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Cloves
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Large Stock Pot
  • Sauté Pan
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Medium Pot
  1. Soak the beans. There are two choices. Either soak them in a big bowl of water over night, or do what the rest of us do. Fill a pot with water and the beans. Over high heat let boil for 15 minutes. Cover and let sit for 50 minutes.
  2. Sauté onion and garlic in a little olive oil in the bottom of the stock pot.
  3. Add the vegetables and potatoes to sauté for a few minutes. You can use any root vegetable if you don’t have potatoes and/or sweet potatoes.
  4. Add the kale. Cook it down a little bit.
  5. Add the strained beans, tomatoes, herbs and spices and plenty of salt. As you add the whole tomatoes use your spoon to crush them a little.
  6. Add the liquids. Either beer or wine will work. You may need a little (cup or so) of water. If you have molasses then add it now.
  7. Add grated parmesan. If you happen to have the heel of a piece of parmesan you can throw it in there too.
  8. Cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat. Stir occasionally.
  9. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  10. In a separate pan, brown the sausages in a little olive oil. You don’t need to cook them through. Just until there is a crisp skin on the outside.
  11. Add the sausages to the soup and simmer for another hour.
  12. Adjust seasoning and serve with the parmesan toast that you will read about tomorrow.
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