Sausage, Kale, & Tomato Soup

Our pasts have a way of writing themselves on our bodies. At least for me, that’s especially true of my hands.

For example, the scar on my right index finger? That’s from the Christmas party in 2005 when I nearly sliced off the tip with a bread knife. The mark on my right thumb? A lemon zester in 2011. The massive scar on my right palm comes from a 2013 run-in with a chef’s knife. And the jagged line on my left index finger owes it beginnings to an aluminum can and a batch of Sausage, Kale, and Tomato Soup in 2007.

That whole “pasts writing themselves on our bodies” thing isn’t as romantic as it first sounded, right?

Regardless, the soup was totally worth it.


That 2007 injury, in particular, stands out, because it’s the only one that ever  sent me to the Emergency Room in the middle of a dinner party. Somewhere between browning the sausage and opening the cans of tomato sauce, I sliced my finger on the jagged edge of a can’s lid. At that point, like a good (albeit deranged) hostess, I wrapped my finger in gauze, held it aloft, and finished cooking the soup, dripping blood be damned.

Not until everyone was served, did I let my friend’s husband drive me to the hospital, leaving 20-plus adults and unknown numbers of children  to enjoy their dinner in my living room.

Apparently, the soup was a rousing success. Two hours later, when I returned home with my eight stitches, my friends were still there, but the soup was gone.

I know…some friends.

Spice Jars

Eight years later, I’m still making that soup. It’s a little bit spicy, and a whole lot cozy. It also can feed a crowd, easily doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling, like it was on that fateful night.

Cheap. Tasty. And so simple that even a bleeding, one-handed, deranged redhead can pull this off.

You’ve got this.




Kale n BeansThree Bowls 2


Sausage, Kale, & Tomato Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6-8


  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. dried parsley
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • .5 t. – 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. – 2 t. . crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 4 c. water
  • 2 cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large bunches of kale, center stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Shredded parmesan for topping (optional)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prep vegetables and set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot, heat oil, then add in sausage; cook until the pink is gone and the sausage crumbles.
  3. Add onions and garlic; cook until the onions are soft and just beginning to turn golden (about 5 minutes).
  4. Stir in parsley, oregano, basil, .5 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
  5. When the spices are evenly mixed in, add the tomato sauce, water, and beans.
  6. Bring to a simmer (about 15 minutes), then add the kale.
  7. Cook, covered, until the kale has wilted and the soup is cooked through (about another 10-15 minutes).
  8. Check seasonings, adding more salt and crushed red pepper if needs be.
  9. Before serving, garnish with shredded parmesan.

Cook’s Notes

  1. You can use any kind of Italian sausage in this recipe. If small children aren’t going to be eating this soup, I usually use about half spicy and half sweet. But we like things spicy here. If you don’t, just go with sweet or mild.
  2. Don’t drain the sausage before adding in the onions. You want the sausage fat for flavor. I promise. You really do.
  3. If you’re feeling lazy, which I often am, you can use the bagged kale. You’ll want to add about 6 generous handfuls or slightly more than half the bag.
  4. I added another .5 teaspoon of salt and another teaspoon of crushed red pepper at the end. Again, we are some spicy-liking women in this house. Personal tastes will vary.

8 thoughts on “Sausage, Kale, & Tomato Soup

    • Emily says:

      I’d post a picture of what I do with my spices, but I’m afraid I’d scare all the readers away! But yes, I buy them, put them in the little jars, label the top, then organize them alphabetically in a large drawer by the stove. It makes it about a million times easier to find what I need and know what needs replacing. But it also makes me look crazy!

  1. Julie says:

    This is great! I like this recipe, but I ended up using some cabbage, spinach and hominy instead. A nice variation perhaps? It’s just what I had in the house. I used spicy sausage. I cooked the hominy in water with adobo seasoning to it doesn’t taste bland. I think I put way too much oregano b/c I put 2 heaping teaspoons of italian seasoning! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  2. Melissa says:

    the soup looks so yummy! can’t wait to make it.
    Do you do your own photography? Great shots – they’re so inviting I want to leave work right now and get the ingredients to create my own masterpiece 🙂

    • Emily says:

      Thanks, Melissa. And yes, I’m doing all my own photography. (Although calling it that feels a bit insulting to real photographers!) I’m just learning as I go right now. Good luck with the soup!

  3. Lindsay says:

    I had to get stitches after an incident with a can lid, too! After that, my in-laws sent me this can opener that leaves no sharp edges:

    It’s amazing. Just in case you’re still living in fear, 8 years later. I know I haven’t touched a can of mandarin oranges since I sliced my finger open, even with this new opener. 🙂

  4. Janby says:

    I love this soup and have made it a couple of times- everyone seems to love it! I like it chunky so use a mix of sauce and diced tomatoes- but the recipe is easy and tasty and BONUS! fast! I cut my index finger on a can of beans making it today- so I can quite literally feel your pain! :). Thank you for your recipes and comments- very well done! I grew up in Steubenville too so it’s nice to read about the old hometown!

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