What can you do with two or three Italian sausages, a couple of potatoes and a fist-full of chard?
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? If you have a small onion kicking around, a clove or two of garlic, a rib of celery and some broth or bouillon as well, you can produce a tidy pot of delicious and fairly wholesome stew without making a dent in your pantry.
All this was inspired by reading about Italian peasant soups and stews, and recalling Portuguese soup that I ate when I lived in Stonington, Connecticut, next door to the Holy Ghost Club. The members cooked up vats of delicious soup to give away during a feast day celebrating Queen Isabella.
You can also add beans like cannelinis or small pasta like orzo or ditalini. You can serve it on rice or crusty bread brushed with olive oil and baked briefly. You don’t even have to use chard — kale, spinach, cabbage or even leaf lettuce works, too.
The sausage can be bulk or links, made of pork or chicken, and be sweet or spicy. Italian sausage, linguica, chorizo or andouille — all are suitable. Heck, you could probably even use breakfast sausage. If kielbasa is what you have, just dice it up and proceed. The sausage adds more flavor than substance, but if you want a meatier dish, then add extra. If you are a vegetarian or just being economical, this stew packs enough flavor without the sausage.
Make it as zippy as you like with red pepper flakes or chipotle powder. Add herbs or other spices. I used oregano and smoked paprika — another time I might choose cumin, fennel or basil.
Then, too, chard and kale continue to thrive in the garden, undaunted by cooler days, and recently dug new potatoes. It seemed like a good idea to use some sausage we had in the fridge, resulting in a hearty supper one night and then a couple days of lunch.
Wicked tasty. Cheap, too.
Sausage potato chard stew
Serves four to six.
3 large link sausages removed from their cases, or about half pound of bulk sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups broth or water, or just enough to cover
1/2 teaspoon oregano, marjoram or basil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, cumin, or ground fennel or seeds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
5-6 stems of chard
Place a heavy pot over medium heat, and add the sausage. Brown it. If it sticks, add a little olive oil.
As the meat browns, add the onion, celery and garlic.
When the meat is browned and the vegetables a little soft and fragrant, add the potatoes and broth or water, just enough to cover.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer.
After 20 minutes, test the potatoes to see if they are tender. If not, cook for another five to 10 minutes until they are.
Add your preferred seasonings. Taste for salt, and add if necessary.
Roll the chard and slice off shreds and add them to the pot. Cook briefly, just enough for the chard or greens to wilt.
Serve on cooked rice, if you wish, or grilled or baked crusty bread.