Stewing on the weekend

If you make it, they will come. 

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Portuguese kale and linguica stew. —Connie Berry

To me, soup is the culinary equivalent of freeform jazz. Beyond the basic structure of a recipe, there is always room for improvisation, and the end result is a testament to the power of individual creativity. A basic chicken noodle or lentil soup has universal appeal, but is simple to the point of being nearly impossible to mess up. I’d even say it’s easier than frying an egg correctly.

Since moving back to the Vineyard, my love for good soup has grown. I became a soup scientist, and my kitchen is my lab. My family acts as my (usually) willing test subjects in my stew-centric experiments, providing me with positive feedback as well as constructive criticism. 

It can get lonely on this Island in the wintertime, a fact that I’m sure you all know, but a good meal with loved ones can make it less so. With that being said, I invite you to try out the recipe described below. My brother, who usually eschews most meats, with sausage in particular being one of his least favorite, loved it so much he asked for seconds.

And, if you don’t find it to your liking, remember that with soup, there’s always room to improvise.

This robust, flavorful stew is simple in preparation, and is sure to be a big hit around the dinner table. For a smokier taste, substitute strained bacon fat for the olive oil.

Portuguese Kale and Linguica Stew

This recipe should be enough for 6-8 servings, and should take you a little under two hours total, depending on how fast you can cut the veggies.

¼ cup olive oil
1 lb. linguica sausage, sliced into rounds
2 large white onions, finely diced
3 large carrots, sliced into coins
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 16-oz. cans cannellini beans, drained
1 bunch fresh kale, rough-chopped to 1-in. pieces
2 quarts chicken stock

First, you’ll need to gently heat the olive oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven on medium-low to medium on your stovetop. 

To test if it’s hot enough, drop 1 slice of linguica in. If it sizzles, it’s ready.

Next, add all the linguica, and sauté until a slight brown crust forms on most of the pieces, stirring occasionally. 

Remove cooked linguica from the pot and reserve in a bowl, making sure to leave a substantial amount of oil in the pot.

Add your onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot, stirring until they turn translucent.

Add reserved linguica sausage, crushed tomatoes (I like to strain them and use the resulting liquid because I have an aversion to chunks of tomato, it’s a texture thing), beans, and kale.

When the kale starts to wilt, add the chicken stock.

Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to a steady simmer.

Give the stew a stir every couple of minutes, tasting the broth as you go.

Add pinches of salt and pepper at your discretion until it’s seasoned to your liking, and keep the stew at a simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Ladle into bowls, and serve immediately.