The verdict is in and the peoples: they like the chard. The professional chefs, recipe developers and cookbook authors? Not so much (except for Martha Rose, who, as ever, is awesome. The other Martha gets a nod too, mostly for the cool, seasonal, by-ingredient recipe index she’s got going on.).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just don’t understand why everyone in the culinary world has a love affair with kale, but ignores her milder, softer, and let’s face it, prettier sister chard. Kale is clearly the Marcia in the Lexicon of Brady Girl Vegetable Analogies, while poor, sad chard is Jan, crying, “All I hear all day long is kale, kale, kale!” (Baby spinach is obviously Cindy: ubiquitous, inoffensive, a little boring, but grows up to be a wild child.)
With the cool temps, abundant sunshine and even more abundant rain we’ve had in the Northeast this spring, chard plants are shooting up like Peter Brady’s voice. This soup makes use of two hefty bundles of chard, protein-packed tepary beans, a good bunch of early summer aromatics and a couple of spicy Italian sausage links to tie all of the flavors together. Really satisfying: hearty without being heavy, floral and grassy with all of those spring vegetables, but with just enough sausage to lend a balanced umami flavor without feeling like a heavy winter stew. Bonus? It freezes well, so you can keep up with late spring’s prodigious chard output by tucking some of the bounty away in the freezer for another day.
- ½ lb dried white tepary beans, or other firm white bean, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
- olive oil
- 2 Italian sausage links (about ½ lb), casings removed
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 head green garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
- 2 large bunches chard, stems trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise, leaves reserved
- splash of white wine vinegar
- 1 quart stock, chicken or vegetable
- 1 quart water
- 2 stems fresh rosemary, leaves of one stem minced
- salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium Dutch oven or stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add sausage and fry over medium-high heat, breaking up into pieces as you stir, until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add shallot, onion, garlic and scapes: reduce heat and sauté until just soft, about 5 minutes. If your sausages are quite lean you may need a bit more olive oil. Add chard stems: stir and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine vinegar, stirring and scraping up any browned bits of sausage from the bottom of the pan, then add stock, water, beans, 1 stem of rosemary and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer to blend flavors for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the chard leaves: stack leaves one on top of another, like a deck of cards. Slice in half lengthwise, along the stem, roll into a tight cigar, then finely slice crosswise, for thin ribbons of chard. Stir in chard and some black pepper: cover and simmer until chard is just wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings (if you use homemade or low-sodium stock, you might need quite a bit more salt). Remove rosemary stem. Serve hot, garnished with minced fresh rosemary.
- Tepary beans are quite unique, but this full-flavored soup will work nicely with any white bean.
- For a Fall version, replace green garlic & scapes with 3 to 4 minced garlic cloves.
- I used a spicy Italian sausage which I think worked very well with the beans, rosemary and chard, but feel free to use your preference, sweet or hot.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days. Frozen for up to 6 months.
Spring into early summer.