Back in 2004 when I first wrote this column, something called "kale" was the new green on the block, not the trendy find-it-everywhere green it is today. For this recipe, I modified a classic split pea soup, adding kale for healthiness and a touch of sweetness and a bit of sausage for richness and texture. Delicious, this stuff! It's easily converted to a vegetarian or vegan soup and perfect for the fickleness of late-winter, early-spring days. Let's go green, "kale green"!
"It was great!" ~ Kathy
Lime green. Mint green. Olive green. Sage green. Kale green.
Kale green? Yes, kale green. It’s a new green, in the color and the culinary sense, your body and taste buds will thank you for seeking out.
Kale is part of the cabbage family. Like most greens, it is easiest to find during the winter. Find bunches of kale, its leaves dark and tinged with purple and packed with calcium, iron, folic acid and vitamins A and C, in the produce section.
Like cabbage, kale gains sweetness while cooking. So do split peas.
This recipe’s first test was for lunch for a girlfriend and a teenage nephew helping paint the family room. (The paint color? Tundra green.)
The recipe called for lentils but without hesitation, I substituted split peas when that’s what was in the pantry. “Yum,” was our unanimous reaction.
When making another batch with lentils later, was I ever surprised that the split peas were far preferable, yielding a softly sweet and creamy soup.
SAUSAGE & KALE SPLIT PEA SOUP
Stove-top time: 90 minutes
Makes 15 cups (freezes well or make a half batch)
- 4 ounces smoked kielbasa or Italian sausage or another sausage
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups dried yellow or green split peas (about 14 ounces), rinsed and picked through
- 6 cups water
- 6 cups chicken stock, either No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock or Homemade Chicken Stock
- 1 bunch sturdy kale such as curly kale or lacinto kale, stems and center ribs removed, greens chopped fine (see TIPS), about 5 ounces after trimming, or fresh spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium high. Slice kielbasa in quarters lengthwise, then again crosswise in half-inch pieces. Drop into pot (they should sizzle) and stir lightly to spread evenly over bottom. Add garlic and onion as minced and chopped and lower heat to medium. Stirring regularly, cook until sausage is slightly crispy and onion is soft. (If the sausage isn't pre-cooked, be sure to cook it all the way through.)
Add split peas, water, stock and kale. (If substituting spinach, add it five minutes before serving rather than now.)
Cover and simmer for about 90 minutes or until peas are cooked through. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper and serve immediately.
VEGAN POTATO & KALE SPLIT PEA SOUP To easily "veganize" this soup, just omit the sausage and chicken stock. For a texture contrast, dice one or two skin-on Yukon Gold potatoes, then use a vegetable broth.
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