Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Detox In A Box: Quick (or Slightly Longer) Kale and Sausage Soup

Re-entry into my version of reality after a trip to the ancestral homelands in Buffalo, NY is always a bumpy ride. After eating my weight in fried foods and custard, not to mention the survival food consumed during 16 hours on the road, there is always a serious adjustment period.

Like most of the Midwest, Buffalonians eat lots and lots of heavily salted meat. It's also hard to find a meal that doesn't include french fries. Salad, the primary vegetable offering, comes in one variety: iceberg lettuce, a tomato and a cucumber – although sometimes croutons make an appearance. And no one skips dessert. Ever. In fact, double dessert is not uncommon. And of course mom’s cookies are available for snacking on 24/7.

This lifestyle is fun when I’m on vacation, but any more than a day or two of this and my digestive system begins plotting terrorist activity. By day three I’m ready to declare myself a full-fledged vegan and I’m silently pledging to kick up the workouts, become a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and/or a full-time health foods writer upon my return to Connecticut.

But being the sensible girl that I am, I usually begin my new regimen with my own version of a detoxification diet. And by the time the cruciferous veggies, whole grains and beans begin working their magic, all thoughts of career, um, change? have vanished.

I have no shortage of detox remedies. This week, because I was in a hurry and craving kale, I pulled out my quick and easy Kale and Sausage Soup recipe. Yes, it has meat in it, but once it’s all cooked down, you can drain and/or skim off most of the fat, and the soup becomes a lean, mean, body-cleansing machine.

This recipe is quite flexible, and once in a while I give myself permission to Sandra Lee it. That is, I simply remove the pre-bagged, pre-canned and pre-boxed packaging and dump it all into a pot. By the time I’ve loaded the travel laundry into the washer and sifted through the junk mail, the soup is ready to eat.

Conversely, when I have any time at all, I will buy, clean and chop my own kale and tomatoes, and if I’m uber-prepared and have made stock the week before, I’ll use my own chicken broth. Any one of these touches can take this soup from very good to great, and with the exception of the stock, none of them takes that much extra work.

Still, if you need a quick fix for settling that rebellion in your belly, there’s no need to get fancy. This is digestive warfare -- do what you need to do.

Quick (Or Slightly Longer) Kale and Sausage Soup

If you’re in a hurry
If you’ve got a little more time
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 lb of Italian sweet sausage (loose sausage meat, not casings, is easier)
Buy the good stuff from the butcher
4 large cloves of garlic, sliced

1 – 3 tsp crushed red pepper, to taste

6 cups (1 ½ boxes) of chicken stock

Use your own stock, or even “Better than Bouillon” works well and lives up to its name
1 can peeled, chopped tomatoes
Place 2-3 fresh tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, until skins begin to tear. Remove from water, cool for a minute, then peel skins. De-seed the tomatoes (if you’re ambitious -- and wearing an apron), then chop. Discard skins and seeds before adding to soup.
about 8 oz (½ bag) of chopped, cleaned, frozen kale
Buy loose kale and clean and chop it yourself –- use about 3/4 of a bunch, and cook for an extra 10 minutes or so once you’ve added it to the pot.
1 can chick peas
(Okay, you could cook your own beans and also use some of the bean water to thicken and flavor the soup, but let’s not get crazy.)
  • In a large pot, brown the sausage in the olive oil over medium heat.
  • When sausage is almost fully browned, add the garlic and crushed red pepper (start out conservatively – you can always add more pepper at the end).
  • Let mixture cook for 2-3 minutes. When garlic begins to brown, add the liquids.
  • Add chicken stock and tomatoes, including the tomato juices, to the cooked sausage mixture.
  • Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the kale.
  • Cook the kale in the soup until tender.
  • Drain chickpeas and add them in the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Check the heat. Add more crushed red pepper if necessary.
  • Serve with a crusty ciabatta and a good red wine. If you’re in detox mode, substitute these with whole wheat bread and good clear water.


Survival food for a long road trip across a food wasteland

Here is the list of fundamental travel foods we’ve identified after many many many hours and days on the road. All food groups are represented: sweet, crunchy, salty, caffeinated and the pure junk needed just to keep your jaw moving and your eyes open. Of course you could add to this list (trail mix is a nice treat, along with coffee, if that’s your thing), but this is our idea of the bare minimum that you must pack if you 're going to survive the journey across the long, dreary culinary wilderness of I-90.

Note: although many similar items are now available at rest stops on I-90, waiting to stumble upon said rest stops, the quality of said items and/or the price of "fresh" produce on the road should be enough to deter you from taking a risk. Just pack these up ahead of time and the trip will be more pleasant for everyone. Trust me. I know.
  • Pita chips or pretzels
  • PB&J sandwiches
  • Baby carrots
  • Apples
  • Twizzler’s or Swedish Fish
  • Real, homemade chocolate chip cookies
  • Lots of water
  • 64 oz. iced tea, to start

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you're having trouble leaving a comment, send me an email at tammyjkleinman [at] to let me know.