It’s Christmas Eve, and a rainy one at that here in Georgia. When it rains, the dinner I want most is soup. Considering the day, Alton Brown’s Christmas Soup is the perfect fit! It’s comforting, inviting, and makes you feel down right jolly. There is no dairy or gluten in this, so it’s something my husband, David can enjoy with me and our daughter, Holly.
This perfectly balanced soup has red kidney beans, new potatoes, kielbasa sausage, and kale (although spinach would be good, too, if you don’t like kale). The one ingredient that sets this soup a step above all others is the addition of Red Wine Vinegar. Added at the very end of cooking, it brightens up the whole pot of soup with this delicate acidic pop.
You simply start out with 1 pound of dried red kidney beans that you need to soak overnight. The next day, you need 1 pound of kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices and brown them in your soup pot / dutch oven over medium-low heat.
Remove the browned sausage from the pot and set aside. Then add 8 (yes 8) minced garlic gloves to the pot, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn. You can add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil if the sausage didn’t render enough grease. When I am tasked with mincing large quantities of garlic, I really like to use my garlic press. This little kitchen gadget makes mincing 8 cloves really easy and fast.
Once the garlic is in the pot, add your soaked beans and 2 1/2 quarts of chicken broth. Simply cover the pot and let this cook for 45 minutes. This is necessary to finish reconstituting the dried kidney beans. You’ll find that even after soaking your beans overnight, they’re still really firm. This fixes that problem.
When the 45 minutes is up, add 1 pound of new red potatoes that have been cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Cover the pot again and let this cook for 15 minutes.
Next, add kale to the soup. I used baby kale, so it wilted immediately upon hitting the hot broth, but you can use firmer more mature kale and let it cook for 10 minutes. Once the kale is tender, add the kielbasa back to the soup and then add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. It’s done! Serve and enjoy!
Alton Brown’s Christmas Soup
- 1 pound kielbasa, sliced 1/4-inch thick, on the bias
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 ounces fresh kale, washed, rinsed and torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Brown the kielbasa in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-low heat until it has rendered most of its fat, about 15 minutes. Remove the kielbasa from the pot and set aside. If you do not have a least 2 teaspoons of fat, add enough vegetable oil to make 2 teaspoons.
Cook the garlic in the fat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the beans and chicken broth and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, stir in the potatoes, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Toss the kale into the pot, cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or just until it is tender, but not mushy.
Sprinkle with the vinegar and pepper and stir to combine. Return the kielbasa to the pot and cook just until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.
Warmest and happiest Christmas and Holiday wishes to you and yours!