By Stacy Harris
After the feasts and pastries of the holidays, the new year has reminded me that what my body really wants are the fresh greens and other healthy vegetables growing in my winter garden. I find myself turning to some of my favorite cold weather staple recipes, such as Roasted Broccoli, Kale Pastry, and Collards & White Bean Soup.
This delicious soup is topped with toast, sprinkled with Parmesan, and drizzled with sage butter—sounds amazing, right? It’s also packed full of the kinds of vitamins and nutrients—like vitamins A, C, and K, and manganese, to name a few—that our bodies need to help keep us healthy during the wintertime. But I’ll admit, the flavor is what keeps me coming back. The mild smokiness of the collards pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the white beans and spiciness of the sausage. The toast with sage butter rounds out the taste and texture of the dish.
What’s more, once the collards are washed and ready to go, this recipe takes only about 35 minutes from start to finish. By roasting some of the ingredients in the oven while cooking others on the stove top, you cut the total cooking time way down.
This hearty dish perfect for when you’re entertaining, as it feeds a lot of people, can be made ahead of time, and is beautiful even when served in paper bowls. If you have a “bucket list” of things to make, I assure you, Collards and White Bean Soup should be at the top of it!
Collards and White Bean Soup
2½ pounds collard greens
2 pounds Italian or kielbasa smoked sausage
1 quart (or 28-oz can) crushed tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh oregano (18 to 20 leaves)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Olive oil, for sautéing and drizzling
1 sweet onion, diced
2 quarts (or 2 32-oz containers) chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsps kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
10 slices sourdough bread
Grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
10 fresh sage leaves
Tabasco sauce (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Thoroughly wash and dry collards. In batches, stack collards then roll them lengthwise and cut them across the width into 1/2 inch ribbons.
- Slice sausage on the bias into one-inch pieces and place in a 10×13 casserole dish along with tomatoes, oregano, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add half the collard greens, half the stock the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until collards wilt a bit (making room for more). Add remaining collards and stock, and continue to cook until the collards are wilted and tender, about 15 minutes. Add beans, salt, and pepper, then cook uncovered until heated through (about 2 minutes).
- Pour sausage, tomato, and garlic mixture into the collards mixture and gently stir to combine. Cook another 10 minutes over low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- To make the sage butter, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, removing any foam from the butter with a spoon. Turn the heat up to medium-high and place the sage leaves in the butter for about 2 minutes or until crisp. Remove leaves and place on a paper towel.
- Toast bread and rub garlic over the top. Ladle soup into bowls, top with toast and parmesan cheese, then drizzle with sage butter. Serve with a sage leaf and a few drops of Tabasco sauce (if desired).
Stacy Harris is pioneering the farm-to-fork eating movement that includes harvesting wild animals in addition to domesticated animals and homegrown fruits and vegetables. She’s the author of several books about sustainable living for healthy families. For more recipes like this, check out her website at GameandGarden.com and her Facebook page.