Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sausage and Kale Soup with Potatoes and Carrots + OXO 5 Pound Food Scale GIVEAWAY

A post about Christmas lights? In January? OK, so I'm a little behind! This post was written a week before Christmas but the holiday rush forced me to put it aside. Because I love the imagery, I decided it was still worth posting. While a significant portion of the country is in the midsts of a deep freeze, San Diego was teased with the possibility of rain that has now been replaced by relatively warm days and much cooler nights. The cooler nights have me craving soup. I hope wherever you are, that you're safe and able to stay warm. Peace and good health …


Winter has finally arrived in San Diego. Yesterday brought rain; today the sun dried everything up but the cold arctic winds remain, hungrily biting exposed flesh. Dark comes early now. 6 p.m. and it's pitch black already. I leave the cozy comfort of my bedroom and walk out onto the balcony, my granny square blanket in tow. I reach the outlet between my balcony doors and my aunt's, bend down and plug in my two badly strung together Christmas lights - my sad addition to the neighborhood cheer - promising myself I will fix them next weekend. 

The pitter patter of toe nails in need of a trim against the hardwood floor of my bedroom reach the tile floor of the balcony; Starbuck has followed me out. I sit on the far end of the wicker settee. Not needing an invitation, my fur baby hops up and takes the empty space next to me closest to the balcony railing. She extends her body, front paws on the railing, back paws on the settee, wiggly butt gaining momentum as she surveys the eerily let front yard. All's clear, obviously, since she carefully backs down and settles onto the pillow, paws on the armrest, head on paws, gaze fixated on the neighborhood below. I wrap half of the blanket around me and immediately, an image of my mother fills my mind; the blanket was lovingly made and gifted by her to me. I envelop Starbuck with the other half of the blanket. She lifts her head and turns back around towards me briefly meeting my eyes as if to say, "Thanks, mom." 


A strong wind takes flight, rustling the leaves of the huge fig tree in the front yard and the commotion grabs Star's attention. She stretches her body, back legs behind her in what I affectionately call her frog pose. When her back paws finally make contact with my thigh, she releases a contented sigh and I pull the blanket all the way up to hear little blonde ears.

The house across the street is fully decked out for Christmas: The focal points are a light up abominal snowman from "Rudolf, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" on one side of the yard and a Ferris wheel on the other that changes colors as it goes around and around. My little fur baby is mesmerized by it, only the occasional passing car momentarily diverting her gaze. 


Lost in thought, I'm startled to the present when Starbuck pops up onto her hind legs and peers over the balcony edge towards the north corner. I hear the jingle of dog tags before I see the big black lab walking its owner. Star lets out a low, nearly inaudible growl as she watches the pair move towards the house and finally pass it. Satisfied that they kept moving on and didn't venture off the sidewalk and into her yard, Starbuck lies back down and turns around to look at me as if to say, "Aren't you going to cover me again, mom? It's cold out here!" 

You got it, baby girl. 



Sausage and Kale Soup with Carrots and Potatoes

In my quest to eat a little healthier this year, I plan on more soups! I came up with this one a while back when I wanted a quick mid-week meal. This soup gets the bulk of it's rich flavors from pre-cooked sausage and the use of beef stock. These two ingredients make this 20 minute soup taste like it's been simmering away all afternoon. The first night I made this, I had dinner in a bowl in 45 minutes. You can have it on the table quicker if you chop the veggies the night before and just put them in a ziplock in the fridge. Make sure to chop all the veggies similar in size so that they will cook more consistently. I find it faster, easier and less wasteful to de-stem the kale, hand tear the leaves and then rinse the leaves under cold running water as opposed to trying to get the grit off the whole leaf, one leaf at a time or soaking them in sink filled with water. Also, use white or red potatoes not russet. Russets are too starchy and will not hold their shape well in soup; save them for mashed or baked potatoes. As for salt and pepper, I didn't add any. Using the pre-cooked sausages and the canned stock (even the low sodium variety) added plenty of flavor without needing more salt. If you desire more, add it to individually served bowls to taste and not during the cooking process. This soup is my new favorite comfort food. It's warm, it doesn't leave you feeling sluggish and because the kale is added last to just wilt, it provides the needed crunch factor that make this soup totally satisfying. 



Serves 6

4 ounces chopped onion (about one small onion)
6 ounces chopped carrots (about 2 large carrots, peeled)
2 ½ ounces chopped celery (about 2 medium stalks)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 4-link package of pre-cooked Italian Sausage (I like Aidells brand), sausages sliced into ¼" pieces
13 ounces chopped white or red potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
46 ½ ounces beef stock (one 32 ounce carton and one standard 14.5 ounce can)
1 bunch kale

Chop the onions, peeled carrots and celery as uniformly as possible. Heat a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat; add the olive oil. When the olive oil starts to shimmer, carefully toss in the onions, cooking and stirring them until they are translucent but not browned. Add the carrots and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes then toss in the celery and minced garlic. Cook the veggies for two more minutes then move the veggies to the sides of the pot, creating a clearing in the center. Add the sausages to the cleared area and stir to lightly brown, careful not to let the veggies burn. Toss in the potatoes; stir to combine everything. Pour in the stock, raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Once a rolling boil has been reached, cover pot, lower heat to medium/low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just fork tender.

While the soup is simmering, de-stem the kale by holding the stem with one hand and starting at the thickest portion of the stem and working your way down to it's end, use your other hand to pull the leafy green portion free of the stem. Repeat for remaining leaves. Hand tear the leafy greens into bite-sized pieces and place in a colander. Rinse the leaves, turning often, under cold running water; set aside.

When the potatoes are fork tender, turn off the pot and add the rinsed kale pieces to the soup, submerging the greens until they wilt. Stir the kale, incorporating it into the soup and serve immediately. 



OXO Good Grips 5-Pound Food Scale with Pull-Out Display Giveaway

Ready to take more control of your food prep this year? Or maybe you want to work on portion control? Nothing makes it easier than using a good quality food scale. OXO sent me the OXO Good Grips 5-Pound Food Scale with Pull-Out Display to give it a whirl in my kitchen and I gotta say, I've used several kitchen scales over the years and this one is now my favorite.

This scale is super easy to use, accurate and convenient. Zeroing out is so simple: Place the bowl on the platform, turn the scale on, add the first ingredient. That's it. No manually adjusting an awkwardly placed knob. I love it. There's also no need to empty the bowl before measuring out the next ingredient: pressing zero again, the unit zeros out and the next ingredient can be added. Large bowls are also not a problem with this unit as the display pulls out easily to avoid being obstructed from view. Of course, you can also weigh foods directly on the platform (which can be removed for easy cleaning).

A lot of recipes are beginning to list both U.S. measurements along with grams (metrics). This unit accommodates both pounds and grams and allows for more accurate measurement of ingredients - especially useful in baking when the amount of flour in a cup of flour changes according to how damp or dry the environment is. And if the recipe you're following doesn't have pounds and ounces or grams listed, there are plenty of free converters available online. 

Now here's the coolest part about this OXO Good Grips 5-Pound Food Scale: I was sent an extra one to giveaway to one of my readers. That could be you! How cool is that? 



To enter the contest: 
Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. You must use the Rafflecopter widget to be eligible to win. You can earn up to 5 entries today and receive an additional entry once per day if you tweet about the giveaway. Contest ends at 12:00 a.m. on January 31. Winner will be announced on Monday, February 3. Winner will have 48 hours to respond via email to claim their prize. If no response is made, a new winner will be announced. 

I can't wait to see what you do with your new kitchen tool! Good luck! (Sorry, this contest is only available to U.S. residents.)

Until next time…
Ani


Disclosure: OXO provided two Good Grips 5-Pound Food Scales to me through the OXO Blogger Outreach program; one to keep and one to giveaway. I was not reimbursed for writing this post and all opinions are my own. Prize can only be shipped within the United States.

The OXO giveaway is now over and I want to thank everyone for participating. I loved reading your comments. 

I am pleased to announce that David Bell is the winner of the Good Grips 5 Pound Food Scale. Congratulations David! Thank you for responding so quickly. I'll be getting your scale out to you shortly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

47 comments:

  1. I plan to do a little more healthy cooking this year. Looking forward to making this soup tonight after grocery shopping!

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  2. Hi Lynn! Let me know how the soup turns out. It's so adaptable and yummy! Thanks for stopping by and entering the contest. Good Luck!! :)

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  3. I started going to yoga classes this week! So far so good. Hopefully I can keep it up all year long.

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  4. My goal is to exercise more, especially walking outdoors.
    kellywcu8888ATgmailDOTcom

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  5. Great soup and love the cute story of you & Starbuck. She sounds a lot like our Milou.

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  6. @Brandon, Good luck with the yoga! I've only done yoga once and I was dragged. It was the kind that you do in that horrible high heat that makes you sweat just standing still. Yeah, no. LOL

    @Kellyr78, You and me both! I keep setting my alarm for an hour earlier all week hoping I'll get up and do a good 2.5 miles of brisk walking in the neighborhood before work and keep hitting snooze. One day, I hope to actually do it! ;)

    @Colette, Hello dear! Hope your week is going swell! :)

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  7. i plan to continue eating good and i want to start going hiking more!

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  8. i plan to eat more veggies and trrrry to eat more organic foods!

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  9. I just want to continue to eat healthy and be active.

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  10. My goal is to stay healthy and more exercise!
    Thank You

    Fiona N

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  11. My favorite soup is spicy vegetable

    Fiona N

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  12. My goal is to drink more water and cut back on diet soda.

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  13. My favorite soup is french onion.

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  14. I have a pound of kale that I have been meaning to use up. Look forward to trying this recipe!

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  15. Our health plans for this year are really a continuation of our progress over the past few years--whole traditional foods made from scratch.
    bethelderton59 at gmail dot com

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  16. I guess my favorite soup is a tomato based tons of veggies soup---I call it super soup.
    bethelderton59 at gmail dot com

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  17. I'm loving reading everyone's health goals for 2014! Thank you for reading and participating. Good luck with the giveaway!

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  18. I'm going to lower my blood pressure naturally

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  19. I'm going to lower my blood pressure naturally

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  20. to complete the Spartan trifecta.

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  21. I really want to improve my diet this year - eat more vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

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  22. My favorite soup is beef vegetable

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  23. Always - and I think they are doing some good - I haven't been sick in 2 years. Anyway - this year, it is to eat less chocolate and more fruit & veggies.

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  24. Oh yes! I am hoping to shape up and stay healthy this year!

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  25. Yes, I love creamy cauliflower with crunchy kale soup!

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  26. Healthwise, for this year, my goal is simple: I have a phobia about the dentist, and I'm hoping to be able to make and keep an appointment. Baby steps...

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  27. ilovetorun1311/14/14, 9:47 PM

    I have resolved to go to the gym 3 days a week.

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  28. ilovetorun1311/14/14, 9:48 PM

    minestrone soup is my fave.

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  29. I love soup! My favorite is probably cream of cauliflower. Mmmmm.

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  30. i purchased a gym membership. step 1 complete.

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  31. yes, i have a goal to learn to cook and eat healthier.

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  32. Oh man, that looks tasty.
    I love soup, Italian Wedding has got to be my favorite.

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  33. I want to eat fewer processed foods, make more from scratch. Also, I'd like to preserve more foods for next winter.

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  34. My health goals are to eat more fruits and vegetables. Thanks for the giveaway! DamianMom at yahoo dot com

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  35. My favorite soup is chicken noodle.

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  36. I like Italian Wedding Soup, in particular my Grandma's secret recipe!

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  37. My favorite soup can anything without gluten or canned.. just raw :)

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  38. eat only natural healthy food, sick of fast or fat food

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  39. Eating healthier, do more walking, and try to cut down on sweets (thought that one is so hard!)

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  40. Also - my favorite soup is clam chowder!

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  41. I made my own soup yesterday with random veggies around the house. Spinach, leeks, carrots, white beans, olive oil, salt and pepper. I added greek yogurt after it was done.

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  42. This would be great to have, I need to cook even more healthier. My husband was diagnosed with NAFLD. Needs to watch the portions and foods he eats. Love this recipe will try it soon! Thanks for the chance.

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