There’s nothing quite like curling up with a big bowl of steaming soup at the end of a long, cold, and wet day like today. Our morning began with us running late, taking a little too long to get dressed. It progressed with a pantless and sockless Finn yammering for his morning smoothie and swiping at a bottle of apple cider vinegar I’d left out on the island the night before. Ethan, my helpful boy, reached to grab it away from Finn’s little hands but accidentally slid it right off the table—smash. Stinky vinegar and tiny shards of glass everywhere. I quarantined the kids to their stools, made smoothies, threw together the bbq meatballs I’d promised Ethan I’d make for their school “Lunch of Thanks” pot luck, and faced a wreck that NEEDED to be cleaned up before we left. I was spent by 8:15am. Dinner needed to be easy and satisfying. Soup it is.
We sport large bowls and large spoons around here, as our soup and stew habit is serious. Sometime I make dinners that take a wile to meld, flavors fusing as it bubbles on the stove for an hour or gets popped in the oven for several. Other times, we are struggling to get the kids to bed and get ourselves fed when all we want to do is collapse on the couch.
Enter my Potato, Sausage, and Kale Winter Soup. It came about one night when we needed something relatively fast and I needed to use some kale and cream before they went bad. Grabbing some sweet italian sausage from the freezer—a staple around here for soups and pastas—I threw this bowl of yum together in a little over 30 minutes, faster if you cut your potatoes extra small.
Sure cream makes it a little less healthy, but even Stu can’t stop talking about how good this is each time I make it. It’s easy to get started and leave to simmer while we finish bedtime routines, overall the hands-on time is minimal. I claim this will feed four, but if you portion like we do, I’d say it’s more like three…basically, if you are hungry, double it.
I can’t resist creamy soups, they give me the warm fuzzies that are just. so. gratifying, and I especially love that still this particular version still feels so light. The fennel in the sausage is highlighted by the sweetness of the red onion, along with the red pepper flakes they result in a rich and slightly spicy broth. Served with a glass of red wine and a glowing fire, this makes my night. Add a salad and big loaf of crusty bread and it would be perfect for guests.
Try it and let me know what you think!
Potato, Sausage, and Kale Winter Soup
Makes 4 servings
4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes (or red, or russet, whatever!), unpeeled, medium cubes
1 pound Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 red onion, small diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
dash of oregano
dash of red pepper flakes, more if you like spice
dash of grated nutmeg
heavy sprinkle of kosher salt
5-6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP cornstarch mixed with 1-2 TBSP water
5-6 leaves of lacinato kale, ribs removed, rough chopped
Sauté sausage until brown and crispy, drain fat if necessary. Add onions and garlic, cook until translucent and aromatic. Sprinkle in oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add potatoes and cook for a few minutes before adding broth, bay leaf, and cloves. You can put the bay leaf and cloves in cheese cloth and tie with baking twine if you want to make them easy to fish out, but I just throw them in. Let all this simmer over medium-low heat for a good 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add heavy cream and cornstarch mixture and let it simmer another 10 minutes. Add the kale, nutmeg, and check seasonings, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Give it one last stir.
Serve in big bowls with crusty bread. Enjoy!
It’s also very good leftover a day or two.
For more soups and stews to warm up your winter, be sure to check out my recipes page. What’s your favorite winter dinner?
Last Tuesday morning I awoke with hope. I snuggled with the boys in bed, answering Ethan’s questions about how elections work, listening to how excited he was. After weeks of asking me, “Is Hillary our president yet?” I was finally going to give him answer.
I took the kids (clad in their “Boys will be
boys good humans” shirts) to school, ran on the treadmill, took a shower…all things to keep me busy while the voting lines died down. By 10:30am I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t care if I waited for an hour, I had to vote. It had to be over. I walked the one block to my polling station and breezed through the line-less doors, waving at neighbors and smiling at poll workers. When I looked at the ballot I was overcome. I was simultaneously embarrassed and proud of the tears threatening the corners of my eyes. Just seeing her name filled my heart, I was elated to cast my vote for someone I know has worked her whole life to prepare for this job, someone I would be proud to have representing our country, someone who just happens to be a woman. I wore my “I Voted” sticker with pride, planning to keep it forever as a reminder of that incredible day. I stayed busy until pick up time and ended up driving the kids straight back to the polling station, Ethan wanted to see how everything worked and needed a sticker. We got home and built a nest in the living room to watch the news and play with toys. Ethan asked “What happens if Donald Trump wins? He wants to start wars.” I promised everything would be ok.
This pretty much sums up the night.
The next morning I hadn’t slept. My face was red and wet. My chest was tight. I no doubt sported a look of on that I could not control. I heard Ethan rustling in his room and I sat up straighter, dried my swollen eyes. Tried to put on a positive expression. He burst through our door and asked, “Who is our new president??!” Making an effort to smile, I cheerily-as-possible said, “Donald Trump”. His shoulders dropped, he crawled on the bed, and curled up in a ball. He cried while I scratched his back, told him it was ok, we’d be ok, our government has checks and balances to make sure the president is fair. I said anything I could think of to comfort him.
My heart was shattered.
Since then things have been grey. The cold weather is welcome after weeks of record breaking heat waves. I indulge in big sweaters and scarves, almost like armor to shield me from what the day might bring. After all my hope Tuesday morning, Tuesday night was like a nightmare, one from which I still cannot wake. I’ve avoided the news, deleted the Facebook app from my phone, have rarely turned on NPR—one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve unplugged in hopes it will stop me from crying, stop me from thinking the worst of our country. Stop me from seeing what’s happening outside my bubble of progressive, diverse, accepting friends, neighbors, and our wonderful school. The hate that’s running rampant throughout the nation is terrifying.
So I’m here, along with 47.8% of the country, grieving. Going through the stages of grief. Right now I’m jumping back and forth between denial and depression—anger rears it’s head from time to time but is squashed when I remember anger is what got us into this mess. Anger about the last eight years under a black president, the angry mob saying it’s “payback time”. Anger is empowering disgusting white supremacists to accost citizens with black or brown skin, telling them to “go home”. Pulling hijabs off women’s heads, telling them their “time is up” in America. Students chanting “build the wall” at their Latino classmates.
Watching things like this helps me deal with the pain a little.
And reading incredible things like this letter from Leslie Knope (Amy Pohler). It’s uplifting. Grab a tissue.
And though acceptance is the obvious last stage of grief, like Leslie, I downright refuse. I refuse to let women be treated as brainless sex symbols instead of a smart, worthy human beings. I refuse to see my friends and neighbors and complete strangers discriminated against for their religion or the color of their skin. I refuse to let my children see or hear any hateful, divisive words from our president elect. I refuse to EVER let my boys think they are better than anyone else due to their ethnicity and gender. And I ABSOLUTELY refuse to apologize for my opinion and my refusing all this other stuff.
So now not only do we say goodbye to one of the most inspiring, dynamic, and, truly extraordinary leaders in our history, but we get to sit back and watch hate and anger hurt the real progress gained in the last eight years. I will miss the Obamas so terribly much. I was so moved every time they spoke and proud to have them as the best kind of role models for my kids.
Only I won’t sit back. I’m going to do what I can to make my voice heard. Starting with the Million Woman March in DC, taking place the day after the inauguration. I won’t stop talking about how I feel, won’t stop talking to my kids about equality and honesty. And you can bet I’ll be volunteering to help campaign for the next election. And let’s not forget to mention to the very few yet poignant victories during this election season for some inspiration. Like the election of Catherine Crotez, the first Latina US Senator; California electing the first black woman in two decades, Kamala Harris, to the US Senate. Ilhan Omar who became our first Somali-American legislator and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth who became the second woman Senator for Illinois.
Ok so I’m going to be outspoken, going to be worried about our future, and am going to shed a whole lot more tears over this situation we’re in…but I don’t want Trump to fail. I really don’t, because it fails our country. When Obama won, Republicans wished, hoped, and prayed for failure, they wanted him to burn our country to the ground to prove their point. I will never say that, it’s unproductive and immature. While I don’t want Trump to succeed in his plans to defund Planned Parenthood, abolish the Affordable Care Act, ban Muslims from the US, and implement Stop and Frisk in our cities, I still don’t want him to fail as a president. And since he has been known to change his mind in the span of a sentence, I’m betting will figure out pretty quick he shouldn’t do some of the things he promised. I hope, by some miracle, he pulls this off. Hope he calls all those experts he promised he knew to come help him out so he succeeds. So our country succeeds.
And if he screwed up just enough to lose re-election in four years, that would be stupendous.
I leave you with a joke. That’s right, after all this I’m going to tell you a joke, because it’s one Ethan made up. He was inspired after Halloween, where, in St. Louis, all kids tell jokes before their their candy. When he told me this particular simple, little joke I had to hold back tears, not only because of the clear six year old concept hidden inside it, but because of the sweet delivery, his eyes telling me he knew exactly how I’d react. He says he tells it to himself every night before bed so he’ll have good dreams.
“Why did Hillary Clinton cross the road? To get to the White House.”
Want to join me in DC? Plan now because hotels are tough to find and flights are in short supply. What are you going to do about this outcome?