The Tuscans have their Ribollita. The Galicians have their Caldo Gallego. The Lisbonites have their Caldo Verde. And we, have this “Souppa”. Most cultures have some similar soup, a simple, nutritious, inexpensive and delicious soup or stew, using what’s on hand. This is peasant food, at its very best. This is what I like to call a “three season” soup. It’s perfect when the snow flies in winter and equally perfect on those chilly, rainy spring and autumn days. It’s a little too heavy for summer, but if this is what you want in July, by all means cook up a pot!
This zuppa, minestra, sopa, soup or “souppa”, is a combination of Ribollita, Caldo Gallego and Caldo Verde. These soups all have a few things in common—beans (usually white; we’re using garbanzos). Sometimes these soups have meat, sometimes not, and they usually some sort of greens, be it kale, chard, spinach or cabbage. There’s the addition of potato, bread, pasta or rice, to both thicken and add substance to the finished dish.
I’ve used things I usually have on hand or in the fridge. Sometimes I add more; sometimes, less. I didn’t use tomatoes in today’s soup, but many times I do…I just wasn’t in a tomato-y mood, I guess. Though you will rarely, if ever, see sweet potato in any of these soups, I like its sweetness and color, but again, feel free to omit it. I’ve given you the measurements I used today. I change the proportions to reflect what I feel like eating and to accommodate what I have on hand. At times, I add diced summer squash during the last 5 minutes of cooking, just before serving. I prefer to use lacinato kale or chard in this soup, but I have used savoy cabbage, and spinach, as well as escarole. Toasting the bread slices adds a really nice nutty quality to them. As you know, The Goddess has a nutty quality, too! I usually let the toasted bread sit on the counter for a couple of hours to dry a bit. I either place the bread pieces in the bottom of the each bowl and ladle the soup over the bread or I break up the bread and toss the pieces into the soup pot, which is the usual way of making Ribollita. I happened to have some leftover Florentine Pork Roast with Garlic and Rosemary, so I cubed it up and placed it in the bottom of our bowls, along with some of the toasted bread cubes. The pork was delicious…note the past tense there!
This is the gist of this recipe—fry the bacon and kielbasa in a pot, remove most of the fat then sauté the veggies in that remaining fat. Add the beans and broth. Use your wooden spoon to loosen the nice brown bits left from sautéing the bacon; and add the fried bacon and kielbasa. Now, simmer for a bit. Usually, I make this a few hours before I plan to serve it. I think you get better flavor and it will definitely be better tomorrow. About 15 minutes before I want to serve, I get the soup simmering and stir in the kale and bread (if I’m adding the bread to the pot). Obviously, if gluten is a problem, then you’ll omit the bread, but rice and potatoes are a delicious addition. This should be a thick, porridge-like soup, but feel free to omit the thickener, i.e., bread, rice or pasta and you’ll still have a lovely soup, though it will just be a nice brothy soup. It’ll be good, no matter how you choose to enjoy it. And enjoy it, you will.
I like to throw some Parmigiano Reggiano rinds into the pot, when I can find them. Add them with the broth. And after they cook, I remove the softened rinds, very finely dice them and return them to the pot. Why waste such a good flavor? Otherwise, I sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmigiano on each bowl.
Mediterranean Bean, Sausage & Kale Souppa
- 6 strips bacon or pancetta, fried until crisp
- 10 ounces kielbasa or chorizo, cut into half moons
- 1 small leek, cleaned well and sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 8-10 cups water or broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed between your fingers
- 1-2 teaspoons (or a sprig) fresh rosemary (optional)
- 2 carrots, cut into large dice (I don’t bother to peel them)
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1-2 (15-ounce) cans cannelini, garbanzo or butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (optional)
- 5-6 sliced French bread, toasted and broken up (or 1/2 cup small pasta, or rice)
- 3-4 cups coarsely chopped lacinato kale, chard, savoy cabbage or whole spinach
- Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded for service
- Balsamic vinegar, for service
- Excellent olive oil, for service
I a medium-sized pot, sauté the bacon until crisp; set aside. Remove all the fat but reserve 1 tablespoon. Sauté the kielbasa, just until browned; set aside. Add the reserved bacon fat, the leek, onion, garlic and peppers; sauté until limp and the browned bits in the pan come loose. Stir in the herbs and broth. Bring to the simmer; add the carrots, sweet potato, beans, and tomatoes, if using. Return to the simmer; continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are just tender. This is usually where I stop for a couple of hours. Then just before I want to serve this, I return the soup to a simmer and stir in the kale (or other greens) and the bread. Continue cooking just until the greens become limp. Stir in the bacon and serve in large bowls with good bread. Sprinkle each bowl with some Parmigiano Reggiano or other good, hard cheese, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some lovely, fruity olive oil.
NOTE: You may add cubes of potatoes to this soup and omit the sweet potato. Use a mixture of beans, if you wish and you can keep this as simple as broth, beans, and greens, if you wish. I’m always surprised by how much salt I need for this soup…I imagine it’s because of the starches, so taste and correct.
Mediterranean Bean, Sausage & Kale Souppa Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
This is absolutely, hands-down better as it sets and is reheated. I just love dishes that get better with age…much like fine wine and women! I drizzle some good balsamic vinegar on my bowl, but it isn’t necessary
If you want this to be completely vegetarian, omit the bacon and kielbasa. Sauté the veggies in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and use vegetable broth. It’s pretty tasty that way, too.