Spicy Italian Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup

Spicy, savory Italian sausage, earthy kale, sweet caramelized onions, and creamy potatoes combine with chicken stock and a sprinkling of parmesan and black pepper to create the perfect cold-weather soup.

Spicy Italian Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup

You could use pre-made Italian sausage to make this soup, but it’s more economical and more fun to make your own! The added bonus is the ability to adjust the flavors however you see fit - maybe you want more fennel, less heat, more garlic, or more black pepper in your own custom sausage. This soup recipe uses only half a pound of the sausage - the rest freezes beautifully for another batch, or you can sauté it and put it on pizza, in pasta, or anywhere else you might want a kick of savory spice.

Spices used in this recipe

Salt, Kosher
Fennel Seed
Peppercorns, Black, Grinder
Chili Peppers, Crushed




  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ lb. sausage mixture
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, trimmed, sliced in half from pole-to-pole, and sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, stems and ribs removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Vanns Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Vanns Black Peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, to serve


  1. To make the sausage, toast the fennel seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Grind coarsely in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Combine ground pork with fennel and all other ingredients in a medium bowl, using your hands to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Flavors will be best if refrigerated overnight, but will still be delicious is you use the mixture right away. Divide mixture in two and reserve half for other use.
  2. Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven or soup pot and heat over medium-high flame until shimmering. Add sausage and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up any large chunks, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. 
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion to pot with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add 1 Tbs. of water and scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Repeat process until onions are golden brown and lightly caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in kale, potatoes, and reserved sausage and cook, stirring, an additional 3 minutes to blend flavors together. Stir in chicken stock, raise heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a boil, and lower heat to maintain a steady, gentle simmer. Cook until potatoes are perfectly tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve topped with additional ground pepper and grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.

Serves 6. Adapted from Alice Waters.

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