I’m thinking that my 2014 is already off to a great start since I’m getting really good at math.

Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup I howsweeteats.com

For instance, I figured out that if you eat two bowls of this soup and times it by the number of steps you take from the stove to the table, you can have that number of cookies. If you divide the number of spoonfuls you take from the pot while cooking with the number of red chili flakes in the pot (give it a good old fashioned estimate), that’s how many seconds you need to run tomorrow to burn off said cookies. Spoiler alert: it’s not that many. Jessica math.

The square root of the number of little pasta noodles in your soup is directly correlated to the number of cocktails you should consume while preparing this meal.

See? Everyone wins.

Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup I howsweeteats.com

If you would have told me three years ago that I would be eating kale period, I would have laughed in your face. Heck, had you told me two years ago that I’d be eating kale in an unroasted form? Hilarity would ensue. Giggles for days.

Even one year ago it would have been a stretch. Totally reaching.

Today, I’m eating kale in soup. Seriously. I want to shout in people’s faces on the street, HEY YOU! I’M EATING KALE! IN SOUP!

I know you probably already find me quite obnoxious but I’m not that obnoxious. Maybe only half that obnoxious. I don’t have the guts to do it. Yet.

Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup I howsweeteats.com

I’m also sort of eating kale in salad, at times. It’s still one of those issues where I can choke down about half of the salad before wanting to pitch a fit, but we will discuss more about that shortly. I’m pretty sure that the number of kale salads you eat per week plus the stairs you climb equals things like mac and cheese, bacon breakfast sandwiches, ice cream sundaes and cheesecake. Math is so EASY.

Some of you maybe be doubly shocked by this soup considered I’ve also complained about my feelings on sausage in previous years. It’s not my meat of choice, but as long as the fennel seeds are absent, I’m game every once and a while. That’s why I went with turkey sausage here instead of pork, because my grocery store’s version goes low on the fennel. This original recipe actually calls for additional fennel seeds to be added with the onion, so if you’re down with that, go ahead and add them. I will then promptly reevaluate our friendship. But it’s okay.

Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup I howsweeteats.com


Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup

Yield: serves 4

Total Time: 30 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 pound spicy italian turkey sausage
1 cup whole wheat orecchiette pasta
4 cups fresh kale, remove from stems and torn into pieces
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling


Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, then add the chicken stock, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil.

While the stock is heating up, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing (if it's in casing) and add it to the skillet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the sausage is browned, about 6 to 8 minutes, breaking it into smaller pieces (or whatever size you desire) with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.

When the stock is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, just until it's al dente. Add the kale and stir well, cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in the cheese, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. You can add all of the sausage into the soup or serve the soup into bowls and add the sausage on top per serving. Serve with extra cheese for grating. Make sure to turn the heat off underneath the soup to prevent the noodles from getting super soggy.

[barely adapted from the june 2013 issue of donna hay magazine]

Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup I howsweeteats.com

That’s pretty green.

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125 Responses to “Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup.”

  1. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — January 3, 2014 @ 7:51 am

    I love your math :) And I love how this soup looks! I just made some veggie soup last night and I am loving the colors in yours. That green from the kale just grabs me! pinned


  2. #
    Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness — January 3, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    Your math? I love it.
    This soup? I need it.
    I’m generally not huge on sausage either but I do love it paired with kale. Especially with pasta. Everything is better with carbs. Pinned!


  3. #
    Cindy — January 3, 2014 @ 8:11 am

    I totally used to hate fennel, but we’re pretty cool now. My grandmother seemed disappointed that we were no longer bonded in our mutual hate of the fennel seed. I think I’m growing up? maybe? probably not.

    Also, I think I am the only person in the world who does not like crispy kale! I do like it in soups cause it gets all wilty and tastes less….green?


    • Jessica — January 3rd, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

      you don’t like crispy kale?!? who ARE you!?


  4. #
    amelia — January 3, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    What a simple and delicious looking meal! I am all about the kale, so this is right up my alley. :) I love your workout ‘math’. Too funny.


  5. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — January 3, 2014 @ 8:33 am

    Heheh I remember back when your recipes rarely featured veggies – you have come SUCH a long way! And all those veggies seem to be making you good at math too. ;) It’s absolutely FREEZING here right now, so I’m all about soups. Making the grocery list for this now!


  6. #
    Ali @ Peaches and Football — January 3, 2014 @ 8:47 am

    I’ve always loved orecchiette pasta. It’s so much more fun than regular elbows. I don’t know why but I’m scared of a lot of cooked spinach. I think maybe that’s something I need to work on in the New Year. I know I’m probably missing out!


  7. #
    Anne — January 3, 2014 @ 8:56 am

    I just made a kale & cannellini bean soup on my blog! Yay, we eat kale!!


  8. #
    Belinda@themoonblushbaker — January 3, 2014 @ 9:32 am

    we all need a bit of reduction type food math in our lives. However your makes more sense than mine, when I justifying eating pie for cake and then mixing veggies with bread to balance it out.

    Love the meaty crumble; no matter what people say spicy sausage is a all year around food.


  9. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — January 3, 2014 @ 9:35 am

    Why is my whole entire body not in that?


  10. #
    Tieghan — January 3, 2014 @ 9:52 am

    So, I heat fennel, but only in its raw farm. I can totally handle it in sausage, but not raw. Kale in soup is my favorite. It holds so well! This look so good!

    Oh and I have to tell you since I am beyond exited about it that I was able to get the day designer! YES!! I emailed Whitney and asked what the deal was and she said she would put up some discounter copies (meaning it will not look picture perfect, but will still completely be cute and workable!). SO excited for this to come and hoping it will help me organize all my task! Thanks so much for letting me know about it! :)


  11. #
    Kylie — January 3, 2014 @ 9:54 am

    Your math is way better than my math! Can you teleport this soup to me it looks for yummy and cozy!


  12. #
    caree — January 3, 2014 @ 10:06 am

    I make this (just the other day actually) with gnocchi instead of the orecchiette pasta. And while I try to figure out how to say ‘gnocchi’, I slurp down a bowl or 3. Mmmmmmmmm

    Pretty reminiscent of the Zuppa Toscana from the Olive Garden back in the day- or maybe they still serve it? Haven’t been in forever.


    • caree — January 3rd, 2014 @ 11:29 am

      And add another to the fennel-hater camp… just NO! Sausage pizza, rye bread….no thanks! I’ve also found that people that eat too much spam or processed meats end up REEKING like fennel for some reason. Blech!


  13. #
    Ashley — January 3, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    Is the answer to your riddle 3? Do I win a prize? I hope it’s a 1lb bag of fennel seeds. :)


    • Jessica — January 3rd, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

      and i thought we were friends.


  14. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — January 3, 2014 @ 10:22 am

    Your math seems legit to me :)


  15. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — January 3, 2014 @ 10:35 am

    Fennel seeds are my favorite snack! I like to munch on them raw sometimes–I love the texture and their super tasty.

    (just kidding…)


    • Jessica — January 3rd, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

      you stop it right now.


  16. #
    Courtney — January 3, 2014 @ 10:47 am

    Your math is awesome. Have you ever tried Pioneer Woman’s potato-kale-sausage soup? Delish.


  17. #
    Shauna — January 3, 2014 @ 10:53 am


    This looks amazing!

    Quick question? Where do you buy all of your whole wheat vareties of pasta?

    You always have fun fat little stubby whole wheat shaped noodles :)



  18. #
    Jenna — January 3, 2014 @ 11:02 am

    This bowl of goodness looks so comforting! Perfect for cozy snow days!


  19. #
    Amy @ The Blond Cook — January 3, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    I love kale… and your math! This looks amazing!


  20. #
    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence — January 3, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    I was a math minor in college, and your reasoning completely makes sense to me. So does this soup. I love the classic combination of sausage + rapini + orecchiette. This sounds similar!


    • Jessica — January 3rd, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

      math minor?! that scares me.


      • Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence — January 3rd, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

        Haha yes! And an economics major – even scarier!

        Part of me secretly wishes I had a photography degree with a food styling minor ;) But I wasn’t aware of my current loves at the time. Ahhh well.

  21. #
    allie@sweetpotatobites — January 3, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

    oooh sausage and kale? I need this soup in my life.


  22. #
    Marie @ Little Kitchie — January 3, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

    i want to dive right into that!


  23. #
    Amanda — January 3, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

    Looks sooo good! And, your math bit cracked me up. I’m an art person so that kind of math, I can do!


  24. #
    Oki — January 3, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

    One word: Nomtastic!!!!!


  25. #
    Larry — January 3, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

    Um, this looks perfect.


  26. #
    Lindsay — January 3, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

    That turkey sausage looks so good! I thought it was Chorizo at first, which would probably also be really yummy in this soup. Looks like a big bowl of comfort to me, which sounds like perfection since we just got hit with a massive snowstorm :(


  27. #
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — January 3, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    Man, if I had taken Jessica Math in high school, I totally would have gotten a better grade! ;) This soup looks delish – kale and sausage is one of my favorite soup combos!


  28. #
    courtney — January 3, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

    fennel seeds. . .GAG and I will be making this this weekend. perfect for the negative 30 degree temps were are about to experience in western PA.


    • Jessica — January 3rd, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

      seriously. SO COLD!


  29. #
    Brie @ Entrée the Giant — January 3, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

    The sentence I’m about to type sounds gross, so I’m sorry, but I must say…you have shocked me by your use of sausage.

    I’m glad you gave it a try.

    I strategically left sausage out of that second sentence. #classybroad


  30. #
    Eileen — January 3, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

    Kale and sausage is such a great combination! This soup sounds just perfect for a cold and wintry day.


  31. #
    Courtney — January 3, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

    I’m a new blog reader. I found you though Two Peas and a Pod’s Facebook page. I definitely want to try this recipe, but I’m wondering – can you make it in the Crockpot? Right now i’m super lazy when it comes to cooking, but if not, I’ll try making this recipe your way when my cooking mojo returns.


  32. #
    Becky @ A Calculated Whisk — January 3, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

    you + this soup–>it equals better math (fabolous “make me better” circa 2007? anyone?? now i have it stuck in my head!)


  33. #
    Happy Valley Chow — January 3, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

    Dannggg! That looks and sounds incredible…thanks for sharing!

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow


  34. #
    Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen — January 3, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    Unrelated to this recipe, I sometimes forget that your actual given name is not “How Sweet It Is” so when you said “Jessica math,” I was like, who the heck is Jessica?


  35. #
    Morgan — January 3, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

    I love kale in soup! It really soaks up the flavor of the onions. I would love to see a stracciatella soup made with Kale. I guess this is very similar :) Have you read Angelina’s Bachelors? It’s a light, easy read with AMAZING recipes.


  36. #
    Jenna — January 3, 2014 @ 9:32 pm

    Have you tried Shutterbean’s Kale “Caesar” salad? http://www.shutterbean.com/2011/tuscan-kale-salad-pecorino/ It’s my favorite way to eat kale (at the moment). I add bacon and an egg on top, soooo good. Plus toasted pumpkin seeds for a bit more crunch. Because it’s kale it cancels out the bacon & the cheese in the recipe (Jenna math). Haha.


  37. #
    Pretend Chef — January 3, 2014 @ 10:12 pm



  38. #
    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — January 3, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

    Soup looks delish! I like kale in most forms but have not been able to get on the kale chip bandwagon! Just don’t see what all the hype is for. Kale in soup and salads, yes, kale pretending to be a chip, no!


  39. #
    Amanda — January 4, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

    This soup looks delicious! Kale is only acceptable in soup or chip form…..other than that it smells like a musty basement (to me.).

    Fennel in sausage! Eeeewwwwww. I’m with you on the fennel loathing. Yuck, just *shudder*. I saw a recipe for fennel ice cream on smitten kitchen and I was like “I love you Deb but this ones not for me.”


  40. #
    Cate — January 4, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

    Jessica math should be taught in schools. So, thoughts on using spinach in place of kale?


  41. #
    Ana Young — January 5, 2014 @ 11:19 am

    Your post is a hoot! I hope I enjoy this dish as much as I enjoyed the way you delivered this recipe page. You should have your own cookery program that’s part comedy/parody. I would tune in to that!


  42. #
    Janet — January 5, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    We also do not like fennel. Instead of Italian sausage we picked up some chicken mushroom asiago sausage from trader joes and it was divine in this soup! Even my 20 month old asked for seconds. Will definitely be making this again!!


  43. #
    Emily @ Life on Food — January 5, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    I need soup in my life right now. You are right. It is the perfect balance with cookies.


  44. #
    Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats — January 5, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

    bahah I just laughed my arse off at your math…it’s always been me weakest subject, but somehow everything you said, makes TOTAL sense.
    Kale Cookies & Cocktails for life!


  45. #
    molly yeh — January 7, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

    allllllll my favorite things are in this soup. get it, girl.


  46. #
    Laurie E. — January 7, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

    Love these “rustic” soup recipes. I make one very similiar, but instead of pasta, dice up red potatoes. Either way, delicious.

    Loving the white bowls, too. I finally bought myself a set of white dinnerware at Tar-jay. It was my Christmas present to ME. It’s gorgeous and I love it!


  47. #
    Ruthanne — January 7, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

    I made this soup for me and my parents this past weekend. It is delicious! It’s indulgent, yet feels healthy because of the kale. I am making it for myself tonight. Adding the cheese to the broth brings out a richness my mom really loved. Also , I love that I can make this for my meat-eating AND vegetarian friends, if I use vegetable broth and keep the meat on the side. Perfect recipe for a cold, cold day!


    • Ruthanne — January 7th, 2014 @ 5:43 pm

      P.S. I can’t wait to pre-order your cookbook!


  48. #
    Cait — January 7, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

    This looks delicious!! Ever add a chunk of parm (or let’s face it, any other) cheese rind to your soups while they simmer? It adds even more richness and flavor to the broth… I’m definitely doing that when I make this one!


  49. #
    Hannah — January 8, 2014 @ 5:40 am

    This was so good and easy!


  50. #
    Gina — January 8, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

    My husband detests kale. I did find a salad recipe this summer that he actually enjoyed. He says he can tolerate it uncooked over cooked, but I love it in soup, so I will be trying this recipe soon.



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