“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
Harriet Van Horne

Cooking for me is like riding a roller-coaster. I’m either watching from the sidelines admiring another person’s ability to take the risk and embrace the unexpected, while I sit idly by watching wishing I had the courage to follow their lead, or I’m all in, taking chances, tackling my fears, walking on the wild side for a bit, and hoping my family doesn’t (nor I for that matter) vomit.

Last night I decided to walk on that wild side and play around in the kitchen. My family (especially my husband) loves when I enter “all in” cooking mode. Usually it lasts a week or two, and every night my family is treated to a healthy, delectable meal that usually includes a protein, a vegetable or two, and some sort of bread or grain to accompany their big glasses of low-fat milk courtesy of Moi. If they’re lucky, sometime I even throw in a dessert, but those days of few and far between.

But then for the next week or so when my cooking marathon is over, we scrape by on cereal, sandwiches, leftovers, processed food, and takeout. Hey, I never claimed to be Super Mom.

A few weeks ago a friend brought me a bowl of her homemade potato, kale, kielbasa soup and ever since I’ve wanted to re-create it for my family. Yesterday was the day that happened.

Earlier in the week I had bought a pre-chopped package of kale from BJs and a great big bag of Yukon Gold potatoes (my favorite). I always have a couple kielbasa’s on hand in the freezer for a quick appetizer to serve with cheese and crackers, or to whip up one of my family’s favorite dinners — jambalaya.

Like always when creating something new I go to the Internet to explore the varying recipes for what I want to cook. This was absolutely necessary last night because my friend was unavailable to consult with on the recipe. I found two recipes on a couple of blogs that appealed to me at http://beezersbites.com/2010/03/29/hearty-kale-and-kielbasa-soup, and another at http://susansink.blogspot.com/2010/10/kielbasa-kale-leek-and-potato-soup.html. (Beezer’s recipe included squash or sweet potato which I didn’t have, but I might definitely try that next time.)

The former appealed to me because it contained Yukon Gold, a little spice, lots of garlic, and an assortment of beans — kidney and cannellini. The latter because it consisted of leeks, carrots, and chicken broth/wine base. I only wish I had leeks on hand because that would add such a sweet mix of flavor to compliment the spice that I wanted to add to the soup for a little zing.

As I usually do, I took the two recipes and set to work creating my own spin off of the potato, kale, and kielbasa soup I had fallen in love with a few weeks earlier because a kind friend offered me a bowl for dinner. Did I mention it was during one of those “fend for yourself” weeks? Thank you Kathy!

I began by searching my pantry for the ingredients I would need. A quick assessment alerted me I was out of cannellini beans and I didn’t want to use kidney beans in this recipe, thus organic chicken broth was the only ingredient I had at the moment. Then I went to grab the kielbasa, and found I was out of that, too, so I grabbed a frozen pack of mild italian sausage (7 links), that we had repackaged from a larger package a while back. I knew I had the kale so I knew I at least had the basic ingredients to begin.

Then I set to work concocting my recipe.

I began by adding 6 cups of organic chicken broth to my pot, combined that with 8 medium-small Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and chopped) and set that to boil. When it came to a boil I set the heat low to simmer until the potatoes were tender.

Meanwhile I defrosted the sausage links in the microwave and browned them on the stove for approximately 10 minutes or until they were almost fully cooked.

As those were cooking I diced up 1 large onion (chopped), 1 1/2 to 2 cups of baby carrots (chopped), and approximately 4 cloves of garlic (chopped or pressed) and set it aside. Then I removed the almost-cooked sausages from the pan and set them aside, added approximately 1-2 Tbs. of olive oil to the pan with the juices and threw in the onion, and carrots to saute until the carrots were slightly cooked and the onion translucent. Then I added the garlic and cooked for a few more minutes, and added it all to the soup pan, along with a couple of bay leaves, and a salt and pepper to taste, and let that all simmer for a while. (I planned to use a chopped jalepeno or chile pepper, too, but since I was using the sausage instead of kielbasa, that gave the recipe enough of a kick already).

Meanwhile I sliced the sausage into thin-medium slices added it back to the pan to finish cooking for a little bit, and then set it aside.

By this point the potatoes were ready so I used an immersion blender to thicken up the sauce a little bit, added 1 cup of white wine, and the sausage and let it all simmer for a little while (approximately 5-10 more minutes). Then I removed the baby leaves added 5 large handfuls of the kale. The soup was almost done and looked so colorful and yummy! (Of course, I forgot to take a photo so I could show you.)

I served up a small batch to my husband and a friend for approval, and then called the kids down for dinner.

Seconds (and sometimes thirds) were served all around, except for the sick kid upstairs (he was vomiting, but I swear he didn’t touch the soup before that). I took the smiles and requests for more as a good sign. Because I forget to get bread from the local bakery, Shea buttered up some plain old wheat for dipping which was sweet of him to do, but a hearty italian with a crunchy outside would have been even better.

All in all it was a good meal, and one that will most likely be cooked again at my house only next time, I’m sure, I will play around with the recipe a little more, because that’s what I do. Bon Appetit!

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