I had a craving one day for a hearty, meaty soup that would make a satisfying entrée. One that was based first on robust portobello mushrooms for their rich flavour and substantial texture, and then on Italian sausage for more meaty and spicy goodness. Going with the Italian theme dictated a tomato base and the use of herbs like sage and thyme that only increase my longing to visit Italy.
Chopped fennel added a liquorice sweetness that was a subtle counterpoint to the spiciness of the sausage, and chopped kale (but not too much) added an extra-healthy touch.
As a finishing touch, white wine brightened and brought together all the flavours.
To my mind, the portobello mushrooms are the real star of this soup, and the other ingredients all serve to highlight them.
This is the kind of soup that is satisfying to create, inspires cravings and doesn’t last long when you make it.
Portobello & Sausage Soup
I first made this soup using only hot Italian sausages. Being somewhat of a spice wimp, that was a bit much for me, so the second time I used a mix of hot and mild sausages. This is an area where you’ll definitely want to personalize this recipe. Note, that the kale needs to be finely chopped; large pieces will dominate the soup and turn eating it into a chewing marathon, and that’s not the effect you’re going for here.
- 1 lb hot and/or mild Italian sausage
- 1-1/2 lbs portobello mushrooms (about 6 large), cleaned, with stems and gills removed, then cut in half and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 796 ml can whole Roma or San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 litre vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 large fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 8 leaves sage, chiffonaded
- leaves of 10 sprigs of thyme
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- leaves of 1/2 pound kale, finely chopped (4 cups dry)
- 1/2 cup white wine
Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into a Dutch oven and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up the meat as much as possible. Once the sausage is fully browned, add the portobello mushrooms and onions, stirring occasionally over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have released their juices.
Break up the tomatoes and add them, along with their juice, to the soup pot. Stir in the fennel, sage, thyme, pepper, salt and the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn to a simmer and leave the soup to cook about 30 minutes, covered.
Mix in the kale and white wine and cook for another 15 minutes or so before serving.