No-Recipe Parmesan Rind Italian Sausage & Kale Soup

As far as soups, stews and chilis go, this is probably the one I make the most often. It’s super easy, really tasty, low-cal and stores great for leftovers. I’ve used the base for this soup (stock, tomato paste, canned tomato, fresh herbs) with a few riffs on the other ingredients, and it always comes out perfectly. Most of the time, I use pre-cooked Italian-style chicken sausage, but I’ve used proper Italian sausage many times before, and it’s absolutely amazing (just remember to drain the grease before you add it to the soup). In the past, when I’ve had celery or another veggie hanging around in the fridge on it’s last leg, like parsnips or leeks, I’ve thrown those in and the soup has been as tasty as ever. I also love throwing in a can of drained white beans to this soup when I’m looking for something a little heartier. If you, too, like extra-hearty soups, any smaller pasta noodle works great in this recipe, and morphs it into a minestrone-type dish, if that’s your vibe. Lastly, don’t be afraid of using frozen , veggies if you’ve got ’em (or if you can’t be bothered to chop a fresh bunch of kale). Frozen peas or spinach are a fine substitute here if you can’t find frozen kale, so feel free to improvise. As long as your base is nice and flavorful (thanks, Parmesan rind!), you won’t screw up this soup. Promise.

I love this soup with a glass of dry white wine and a hunk of crusty Italian bread and, like I said, it gets even better over night, so plan to make extra and eat it the next day. Here’s how to get it going:

No-Recipe Parmesan Rind Italian Sausage & Kale Soup

Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine Italian
Keyword soup, stew, Vegetable Soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • olive oil
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 yellow or brown onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme stems discarded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 8-10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in their juice
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 1 package chopped frozen kale
  • 2 links pre-cooked Italian-style chicken sausage *or pre-cooked sausage of choice
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • lemon wedges


  1. Heat a stock pot over medium heat and coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil.

  2. Add the carrots, onions and garlic to the oil and saute for 3-5 minutes, until onions are just softened.

  3. Add the thyme, salt, oregano, paprika, chili flakes and black pepper and stir to coat the veggies in the spices. Saute about 1 minute.

  4. Add the tomato paste and stit to coat the veggies in the paste.

  5. Add 8-10 cups chicken stock (depending on how much soup you want and how brothy you prefer your soup), 1 parmesan rind (yay!) and can diced tomatoes in their juice to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Leave the soup alobe for about 20-25 minutes.

  6. Add 1 bag frozen chopped kale directly to the soup.

  7. Add the sausage and simmer another 10 minutes or so, until everything is heated through. Add additional salt and/or pepper, to taste, if needed.

  8. Serve immediately with fresh parmesan cheese and a lemon wedge, if desired.

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