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Barbara Jezior's kale, sweet potato and kielbasa soup

Russian_kaleThis Food section cover story and video has been a hit with readers, landing on the lists for the Top 10 most e-mailed and most-viewed articles.

It was all about learning to cook in 2009. It kicks off by taking a single great ingredient -- in this case, dried pasta, which Times Food Editor Russ Parsons calls "a cook's best friend" -- and then improvising. The headline said it all: Dinner in the real world.

Several of you wrote to share some of your own recipes and ideas for getting dinner on the table each night with time to spare. We'll post them in the days ahead. (If you have a recipe to share, please e-mail us at food@latimes.com. Include a photo too, if you have one.)

First up: a recipe for kale, sweet potato, and kielbasa soup from Barbara Jezior of Murrieta. You'll find it below. Barbara likes this soup because it involves very little hands-on cooking, can be made in advance and is a whole meal in itself. She adds: "It also happens to be delicious, nutritious and comforting!"

Thanks for sharing your recipe, Barbara (and the suggestion that we serve with a red Zinfandel.)

--Rene Lynch

A toast to cooking more in 2009 ... recipe after the jump.

Kale, sweet potato, and kielbasa soup

8-10 SERVINGS

A whole-meal soup ideal for a cold evening. While you can eat it as soon as it’s done, like most soups it will get even better when it has an opportunity to sit for a while. Serve with crusty bread and a red Zinfandel. 

10-oz box frozen chopped kale, thawed
2 very large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in large bite-size chunks (if too small the potato pieces will fall apart when cooking)
3 large common onions, chopped
3 tablespoons garlic, diced
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 California bay leaf or 2 Turkish
1¼ teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
28-oz can diced tomatoes, including the juice
2 quarts chicken stock 
1 link fully-cooked kielbasa (1 lb. or a little more), cut in slices 1/3” - 1/2” thick   
salt
coarse black pepper

Heat a 6-quart (or larger), heavy pan or stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot, add the onions and cook for about eight minutes, stirring frequently. They should wilt and become somewhat translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook and stir for two or three more minutes.  Pour in the chicken stock, tomatoes (with their juice), thyme, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, black pepper and kale. Turn up heat, bring to a boil, and then adjust heat to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot, leaving it slightly ajar. After about 15 minutes, add the sweet potatoes, and with the lid still ajar, simmer just until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Add the kielbasa slices, let the soup return to a simmer and then remove from heat. Taste the soup and add salt or additional pepper as desired.

Photo: Russian kale. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

 
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This is an interesting version of a version of caldo we've done w/ kale, potato and chorizo. mmm. i'm a chorizo kind of girl, so i'd take that over kielbasa, but this would be a nice change.


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