Never Fail Soup #4: PW’s Sausage, Potato and Kale

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve enjoyed soup week. I really do make all of these soups all the time. We also make chicken-tortilla soup, chili, and plain old chicken noodle often. The frequency with which I serve soups is why I go into recipe withdrawal when it gets really hot around here. Maybe I should start working on my gazpacho-making skills.

We’re finishing up the week with one of Pioneer Woman’s creations. As with other PW recipes, this one is not going to win any healthy-eating awards. But it is warm and comforting and it made my kids not fear kale anymore.


  • 2 bunches Kale Picked Over, Cleaned, And Torn Into Bite Sized Pieces
  • 12 whole Red Potatos Sliced Thin
  • 1 whole Onion Chopped
  • 1-1/2 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes more To Taste
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 4 cups Half-and-half
  • Splash Of Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Or Dried Oregano
  • Black Pepper To Taste


Prepare the kale and set it aside.

In a medium pot. boil sliced potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage. Drain as much as the fat as you can. In same pan, cook diced onion until tender. Stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the potatoes, a splash of heavy cream for richness, then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.

Never-Fail Soup #3: Italian Sausage Tortellini

The first time I published this recipe, I entitled the post “Make This Soup. Just Do It.” I still feel that way. You should listen to me and make this soup. It’s unbelievably good…so good that you will high-five yourself for being so smart and talented for turning something like this out of your own kitchen.

Whenever I make this soup, I think about two friends. One is my friend Michelle, who makes it frequently and still accesses the recipe on my blog for her use. It makes me happy to know that I am in her kitchen while she cooks this. The other friend I think of is Jaime, who brought over her new boyfriend for us to meet/interrogate one night. I served this on the deck by (very dim) candlelight. Those two chums are married now and living in New Hampshire, where it is infinitely colder than it is here.

Make this soup. Just do it.

Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup

1 (3.5 ounce) link sweet Italian sausage,
casings removed
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups beef stock
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
4 tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped (or use a can)
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup tomato sauce
1 zucchini, chopped
8 ounces cheese tortellini (I usually use Trader Joe’s dried)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for
1. Place the sausage in a large pot over medium high heat and saute for 10 minutes, or until well browned. Drain the fat except for about 1 tablespoon, add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 more minutes.
2. Next add the beef stock, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming any fat that may surface.
3. Add the zucchini, tortellini, green bell pepper and parsley to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until tortellini is fully cooked. Pour into individual bowls and garnish with the cheese.

(originally found on Allrecipes)

Never-Fail Soup #2: Nana’s Hamburger-Barley Soup

If ever there were a soup that defined “never-fail,” this is it. It’s not flashy, it’s not going to win any culinary awards, but it’s easily made with things you probably have in your house, and it will, as the saying goes, stick to your ribs. (I’ve never been a fan of that expression — it sounds painful. But there it is.)

My maternal grandmother — the dairy farmer’s wife — is the source of this recipe. It’s the soup that my mother brought to our freezers when my sister and I were having babies. It freezes well. It’s easy to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe if you find the need to. And I’ve added some notes at the bottom for variations.

Nana’s Hamburger-Barley Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 bay leaf
1/2 C. chopped celery
1/2 C. chopped onion
1/2 C. chopped carrots
2 C. chopped tomatoes (I use one can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 C. barley or rice
4 cubes beef bouillon

In a large pot, brown the meat.  Drain, return to pan.  Add 6 C water and bay leaf; simmer for 30 minutes.  Add all other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes more.

And that’s it.  Easy, right?

I almost always up the broth amount and add more veggies and barley. Also, you should try adding other veggies. Frozen corn, frozen peas, chopped zucchini, and bell peppers would all work nicely here.
My grandmother uses barley, my mom uses rice, I use barley.  It tastes good either way.
If you want to use your crockpot for this recipe, you can.  Just brown the meat ahead of time and then throw everything else in together.
This recipe requires good old-fashioned bouillon cubes.  If you use a stock concentrate like I do, you will need to add salt.  I actually keep bouillon cubes in my cabinet just for this soup.

Never-Fail Soup #1: Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice

Look at that — It’s going to be incredibly cold this week in every eastern part of the country that isn’t Florida. Why not make some soup to make your hunkering down that much more pleasant?  Here I give you one of my never-fail recipes for soup.

If you came to our house the week after Thanksgiving, you’d find this simmering on the stove, because I always make it to use up some turkey leftovers and broth. It’s filling and delicious — and if you’re using leftovers and homemade broth, it’s pretty darn cheap.

NOTE: the original recipe (below) serves four. I usually triple it.

ANOTHER NOTE: my people are not mushroom people, except for one child who I’ve sufficient corrupted to join me on the pro-mushroom side of things. So I either chop them really small (the kids still notice, but they eat them) or leave them out.

AN ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you’d rather steer clear of the rice mix due to price or ingredients, just substitute a raw wild rice mixture and adjust the cooking time to make sure the rice cooks through. I usually just use the mix — we almost always eat plain brown rice otherwise so I justify it that way.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pkg wild rice mix (I usually use Uncle Ben’s)
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add rice (yep, throw in the seasoning packet too) and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender. Stir in turkey (or chicken), sour cream and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

(based on a recipe found at Eating Well)