Friday, February 16, 2007


I trudged home through the rain today, carrying groceries in a bag and on my back. The weather was coming from every-which-way, and I got tired of getting wet inside the bus-stop. So I just started walking. No umbrella, I just let the drops soak my jacket and mat my unbrushed hair. At least I only live 8 blocks from the grocery store.

Anyway, I have a little sinus/cold thing, so I wanted to buy ingredients for a soothing soup. And for cornbread. I can’t seem to get cornbread right, ever, despite the fact that I love it—this time it was too metallic and dry. Maybe it needed sugar? Or butter? The soup I made was great however—perfectly brothy, hearty, and easy.

The origin for this recipe sprang from the necessity to use up a bunch of wilting arugula in my refrigerator. I bought it for salad, and was hesitant to cook it through, which I’d never really tried before, but I figured, “hey, it’s green, it’ll be good.” It turns out that when matched with a more powerful spice (like spicy sausage), the peppery-ness of the arugula just disappears and it becomes mild and soft like spinach.

Having the arugula, I naturally thought “Italian,” (I had some parmigiano too, which I ended up not needing due to how flavorful the soup turned out). I looked up some soup recipes, and found one for the Portuguese “Caldo Verde,” which is mostly just Portuguese sausage, broth and kale, or another dark leafy green. So, with that simple recipe in mind, here’s what I came up with:

Rained-out Spicy Soup

1. In a pot, brown 1/2 lb loose (or uncased) spicy italian sausage (I used pork, but you could use chicken, just put some olive oil in the pan first, just make sure it’s the spicy one). The sausage I get from my grocer has a lot of garlic in it, but if yours has none, add 1 large clove of minced garlic with your sausage.
2. When browned, remove sausage into a bowl (spoon out, leaving the grease in the pot), and set aside.
3. Reheat grease in pot, add half of a medium-sized onion, diced, and brown over medium heat. When browned, turn down and cook until almost clear.
4. Add 4 cups of chicken broth (one of those organic boxes), and raise heat
5. Return sausage to pot, along with 1 can of (rinsed and drained) Great Northern, Canellini, or other white bean, sea salt and pepper to taste (I threw in a whole teaspoon of alae`a salt).
6. Bring briefly to bubbling, then reduce to a simmer for about 10 more minutes.
7. Add chopped arugula (1/2 to a whole bunch, stems and all—1 inch pieces), and when that wilts, give it a stir, and your soup will be ready. Soothing, savory, spicy, and nutritious!
Serve topped with a little parmigiano if you like, and bread on the side (probably focaccia, or ciabatta, or cornbread if you get the craving like mine!)

*This recipe serves two for dinner with some leftovers.

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