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I tried making a kale and vegetable soup with clear broth last winter, and at the end of all the chopping, stirring and toiling over a pot on the stove, it tasted like….nothing. I saved it by adding some Asian flavors – dark sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger. I ended up liking it so much that I’ve revisited the recipe since then, including these components from the start.

It turns out that there was a way to make the original soup more flavorful too. The Portuguese have a version with spicy sausage and beans. Here’s my adaptation, with the Asian variation below. You can play with the vegetables and add leftover odds and ends from your crisper.

Portuguese kale soup:

1 large yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable broth plus 2-4 cups water
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves sliced (about a colander of unpacked leaves)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium or 3 smallish red potatoes, thinly sliced
1 14 or 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 1/2 cup dried beans, fully cooked)
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
8 button or baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 oz veggie sausage
olive oil
hot sauce (I use Sriracha)

Cook the veggie sausage in a skillet in some oil, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks if it is in patties. Stir in hot sauce and set aside.

Cook the onion in olive oil in a soup pot until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and mushrooms, stir, and cook for a few more minutes until the mushrooms start to release their water. Add the kale, carrots and potatoes and cook for a few minutes.

Add the sausage, broth, 2 cups of water, and some salt. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes and kale are tender, adding more water as necessary. Add the beans and cook until just heated through.

Season with salt and hot sauce and/or red pepper flakes.

Serves 6.

Variation with Asian flavors:

Firm tofu (substitute for sausage and beans)
Dark sesame oil
Soy sauce
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced

Drain, slice, and brown the tofu in a skillet with dark sesame oil and soy sauce.

Add the ginger to the soup pot along with garlic and mushrooms.

Season soup at the end with sesame oil and soy sauce along with hot sauce.