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Creamy Braising Greens Soup

Recipe from Dishing Up Vermont by Tracey Medeiros (Storey Publishing).

On the southern edge of the Northeast Kingdom in Craftsbury, Pete Johnson grows a wide variety of organic vegetables, specializing in baby greens, root vegetables, and heirloom tomatoes.  The farm, Pete's Greens, uses greenhouses, root cellaring, and other season-extending techniques to offer the greatest vegetable diversity for as much of the year as possible, proudly calling itself "Vermont's four-season vegetable farm."  Pete's mixed braising greens were the inspiration for this soup.

6-8 SERVINGS

Ingredients

1 slice thick-cut bacon, preferably not too lean, diced
1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 pound sausage, preferably linguica or chourico, diced (see Note)
6 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
7 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups mixed braising greens, such as kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and dandelion greens, preferably locally grown, thoroughly washed, stems removed, and cut into very fine strips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Note: Linguica and chourico are Portuguese-style pork sausages that can be found in many supermarkets.  It should be noted that chourico is spicier than linguica.

Method of Preparation

1.  Saute the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving drippings in the pot.
2.  Add the onion and carrot to the pot and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
3.  Add the potatoes and stock, stir to combine, and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
4.  Add the greens and cream and continue to simmer until soup is heated through, about 5 minutes.  Season with hot sauce if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.
5.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with reserved bacon.  Serve at once.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving: 260 calories, 14 grams fat, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 880 milligrams sodium.

A review quote for the Creamy Braising Greens recipe:

"...A hearty soup, swimming with leafy greens, made luxurious with a dash of cream -- creamy braising greens soup from Vermont cookbook author Tracey Medeiros." - by Hannah Crowley, correspondent, Burlington Free Press.