But then our friends that we were having dinner with were going with their kids, and we decided to join in for a few blocks, because we had already dressed him up for dinner, and we decided it wasn’t fair to hide his cuteness from the world.
So we went. And really, it was mostly like I was walking up to people’s doors and asking other adults for candy, using my one-year-old as a prop. Not awkward at all. And then we froze our faces and hands off. And I was so glad I’d made soup to share at dinner because it was just a soup kind of night, you know?
And that’s the kind of night we’d had when we first tried this soup. (Minus the monkey suit). It was the night of the last presidential election. It was cloudy, windy, and doing that wintery dance between rain and sleet that is special and specific to early November.
I remember running into the polling place from my car, grateful that the line wasn’t extending out the door. And then, as I stood in line, I thought:
I need soup.
I need potato soup.
I need creamy potato soup.
I need creamy potato soup with bacon.
And that was that. I came home; Eric and I flipped on the election results, and I started googling. And I finally came across a recipe that asked for ingredients that I mostly had around. Potatoes! Cream! Bacon! Sausage! Carrots! Kale!
It was what my voting self had dreamed of.
And so, we made soup as it continued to wintry mix outside. And then went to bed well before the results were established because we’re old and both had to get up and work the next morning.
Except, it’s not the end, because this soup is a fall and winter regular around here. It gets tons of flavor from that Italian sausage, and it’s a great way to get some creamy vegetable love: we like to put carrots, bell peppers, and kale in ours. It’s pretty fab as is, especially topped with some extra Italian parsley, but it might change your life if you throw some grated paremesan and Italian croutons on top. Extra calories for the win!
(recipe adapted from About.com Souther Food )
(yields 8 servings)
I adapted the recipe by doubling the bacon and carrots, adding way more dried thyme than the original recipe called for, as well as adding dried basil to the mix. I increased the garlic cloves from 1 to 3, and used ground Italian sausage rather than sausage links. Additionally, I throw in bell peppers for color and flavor!
6 thick slices bacon, diced
3 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 medium (about 2 c.) carrots*, thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. chicken broth, (low sodium or homemade)
1 lb. mild ground Italian sausage, cooked and drained
4 c, potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. kale, packed tight, stem-removed and chopped
1-2 bell peppers*, stems removed and chopped
2 tbsp. Italian parsley (+ more for garnish)
1 c. heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(optional garnishes: shredded parmesan cheese, Italian flavored croutons)
*Can use frozen and thawed carrots and bell peppers instead of fresh.
Cook the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven until crispy and browned; remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Make the Soup:
Drain off some of the bacon drippings, leaving a few teaspoons in the pan. Add the butter to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until the onions are just tender (about 4-5 minutes).
Increase heat to medium-high, and add the thyme, basil, and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until the flour is incorporated into the mixture.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil (uncovered), stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the diced sausage and potatoes; cover and cook for 15 minutes longer. Add the kale; cover and cook for 5 minutes, and then add the bell peppers and cook an additional 5 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender.
Stir in the cream and chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Heat through. Add crumbled bacon back into the soup just before serving.
Top with parmesan cheese and any additional parsley as desired. We like to serve this with toasty garlic bread, but will alternately use Italian-flavored croutons to top it.