This is a very rustic soup, almost a stew that is very much like the one they serve at Olive Garden. It's hearty, very filling, easy to make, and economical which makes it a big winner in my book. With some homemade soups you need to start them fairly early in the day, but this one can be ready, start to finish in 45 minutes. Here's what you'll need:
1 lb sausage (Italian or regular breakfast sausage works)
4-5 medium baking potatoes, washed and sliced with skins on (don't slice them too thin or they will break up too much)
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes (use 6 of other brands that only make 1 cup of broth)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
6-7 cups water ( enough to cover potatoes in the pot)
2 cups half and half
4 cups kale or baby spinach (I prefer the spinach)
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnishing
Brown the sausage, onion, celery and garlic in a little olive oil. Scrub the potatoes well and slice with the peels left on. Add all of the seasonings, the water and the bouillon cubes. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are fork tender...maybe 20 minutes!
Add the half and half and stir. Break up the potatoes some at this point, but not a lot. You want most of them to stay in slices. Don't let it come back up to a boil, just keep on low heat to heat the cream. You can add the kale or spinach to the entire pot right before serving if your family all likes the greens. If you have picky eaters, like I do, just place some of the greens in each of the bowls that want them and ladle the hot soup over them. This cooks them plenty and actually I prefer to do this.
Garnish each bowl with shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese and it's best served with breadsticks, crusty bread or even cornbread hoe cakes are really good with it.