Until recently, except for an occasional breakfast sausage to balance the carb overload of a plate of pancakes, I did not enjoy sausage. In the last few years I've been buying sausage at Chico Meat Locker (& Sausage Company) and my attitude has changed. What a simple base for quick meals! I'm sure that if my raw-milk-drinking, homestead-blog reading side ever takes over, I'll renounce my love for them and start making my own sausage with local pork and chicken, but for the time being, as a busy mom who cooks dinner nightly, I appreciate a shortcut every so often. I've already told you about one of Gracie's favorites, Bratwurst with Cabbage. And I've mentioned my love for their Sante Fe Chicken Sausages both as a taco filling and in this easy meal. This weekend we had a soup made with a Chicken Sausage that contained artichoke hearts and feta cheese, but any of their sausages would work beautifully. The sausage provides the flavor and the soup is rounded out with super sweet farmer's market carrots, kale and sunchokes.
If you've been around the market much, you're probably aware that Pyramid Farms sells the sweetest carrots at the market. Well, there's another vendor who is selling the same variety now. And, while I don't make a practice of recommending one vendor's goods over another vendors, I must recommend that you buy the Super Sweet Carrots over the other varieties of carrots. The Super Sweet variety is not only sweeter, but more crisp. They are consistently stout carrots, and not usually gnarled or forked. Gnarled carrots are fun to look at, but not-so-fun to clean. Pyramid Farms sells their organic Super Sweet carrots for $2.50 per 1 pound bag. The other vendor sells Super Sweet carrots for $1.50 for a bundle or bag (approximately one pound).
Parsnips are the root vegetable that I look forward to most. They are sweet and earthy, just a little more starchy than a carrot. I like them roasted with plenty of oil olive and salt or mashed like potatoes. (When mashing parsnips, I add one potato to give a better texture to the final product.) This year, so far, I've only seen one vendor selling parsnips: Grub Chico. Their produce is not certified organic, but they use organic methods. Their parsnips are beautiful. Rob's Organic Produce (Durham) has carried parsnips the last couple years, but they chose not the grow them this year, because customer demand was low. (C'mon people, buy some parsnips!) Grub is selling their delicious parsnips for $2.50 per pound.
Sunchokes are a knobby little root vegetable approximately the color of a russet potato. I don't see many people buying them, but when I last counted there were four vendors selling them. I bought some this Saturday to go in our Sausage soup. Sunchokes have a bland flavor, making them a suitable substitute for potatoes in soups and stews, where the vegetable takes on the flavor of the broth. (Trying something new, I decided to plan all of our dinners for February at the beginning of the month. Three of this week's meals include potatoes, but no one was selling potatoes this week at the market, so the potatoes in the soup became sunchokes, and the "Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Carrots and (Frozen) Peas over Jasmine Rice" is still sitting on the back shelf of my mind. Maybe I'll use the chicken I bought for a soup...) Rob's Organic Produce sells organic sunchokes for $2 per pound.
Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup
1 1/4 pounds chicken sausage, any variety, casing removed
1/2 an onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 pound sunchokes, diced
3/4 carrots or parsnips, diced or sliced into coins
6 cups chicken stock or water
1 bunch kale, any variety, cut into bite-size pieces
Cook sausage and onion in a little olive oil or butter over medium heat. When the sausage is cooked through, add the garlic, sunchokes, carrots and chicken stock and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes, until sunchokes and carrots and tender. Add kale, replace lid, and cook 5 more minutes.