Saturday, March 01, 2008


Italian for "soup," minestra most often describes a soup of medium thickness, frequently containing meat and vegetables. Minestrina ("little soup") is a thin broth, while minestrone ("big soup") refers to a thick vegetable soup that generally contains pasta and sometimes peas or beans. It's usually topped liberally with grated Parmesan cheese and is hearty enough to be considered a complete meal.
from, based on The Food Lover's Companion

Before the step-by-step (with photos, woohoo!), the back-story:

From last week, we had kale and chard still in the fridge. We had to find a way to cook the veggies.

Usually, with kale and chard or any green leafy veggie, we just cut them up into strips and saute it with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. A twist of lemon at the end, if we have lemon. One time, for a party, we added some foccaccia bread crumbs to the veggies. That was delicious and a crowd-pleaser, because of the bread crumbs.

What we do with kale and chard really depends on the level of laziness on our part. I mean, there are probably lots of things to do with kale and chard (tarts, frittatas, lasagna, etc.) but whatever takes the least amount of work usually rules the day.

Easier than sauteeing and more forgiving than this method when it comes to older vegetables is putting them in water, as in soups. Not that the vegetables we had were past their prime: kale and chard are very hardy and can usually last a long time in the fridge. (I've kept them for two weeks at a time and they seem fine.)

So TS made a soup a few days ago with kale and sausages we bought from Oyama last week. I like this soup because it does not call for chicken stock. (I really have problems with chicken stock as an ingredient.) The soup is kind of a take on minestra, with kale, beans, and sausage. It is a good way to gobble up veggies and a good way to stretch meat. It was so good that she decided to make it again yesterday. Slightly different version but still as delicious.

Now here she is going through the recipe step-by-step.

Italian Sausage from Choices

I took the meat out of its casing and browned it. (We tried just slicing the sausages before, but found that the slices were "too big" in the finished soup.)

1 Onion
3 cloves Garlic

After browning, took out the sausage meat and sauteed some diced onions and garlic in the sausage fat.

4 bunches Tuscan/Black Kale
3 bunches Swiss Chard

We used both swiss chard and kale. Took the leaves off the stems and roughly sliced them. I didn't keep the kale stems, but I did keep the swiss chard stems and diced those.

A quick wash and the greens were ready. (No need to dry.)

I added the swiss chard stems to the onions.

Then the chard and kale leaves went in. Yes, there's quite a bit of them! =)

Added the browned sausage meat.

Some water (or chicken/vegetable stock)

To start, I filled the pot until it was about 1/3 of the way up. When the greens have wilted down, I saw that I needed to add a bit more.


I don't think it matters too much what kind. We used romano and kidney beans this time. One can also use cannellini or navy beans. All those beans (except kidney) are quite soft and/or mushy, while the kidney beans are firmer.

I drained and rinsed them a little, and they were added to the pot.

Added some barley as well. I don't think they're "traditional", but barley is good! =)

After covering and letting the soup simmer, I added some lemon juice. This is half a lemon, but a whole lemon would work too. (We just had half a lemon in the fridge so I decided to finish that off.)

Terra Breads Italian Cheese Bread
I sliced them length-wise and toasted the slices.

And here is is! It's very hearty!

I find that the soup is better the next day. Right after cooking, each component was still separate from each other. The next day, their tastes have flavored the broth more.

Oh, I seasoned the dish (with salt and/or salt & pepper) throughout the cooking process -- very important! Feel free to season as you wish.

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