This Italian kale soup is a delicious and simple soup filled with healthy ingredients and lots of Italian flavor. It’s one of our favorite go-to soups when the weather is cold or we need an easy and healthy comfort soup.
This soup is unfortunately underrated due to the association with kale, which is not the most favored leafy vegetable among the general populous. But kale is loaded with nutrients and the flavor blends well with the other ingredients in this soup.
This recipe is very easy to make and requires little effort. Just like chicken soup, the longer it cooks, the more flavorful it becomes. It also freezes well for future meal planning.
Italian Kale Soup
This healthy soup recipe was first introduced to me by my husband when I was sick. He loaded up the soup with kale and garlic big time and I tell you it helped me feel better just as much as chicken soup.
Since then, our Italian kale soup recipe has frequently provided us healthy and satisfying meals during the colder months. 😊 This recipe uses simple ingredients and gives a delicious Italian flavor. But it also allows for lots of flexibility. I’ll provide ideas further down for you.
This simple kale soup recipe is not only easy, but quick to make too. You can have it ready to serve in about an hour and a half, or less depending on how small you chop the potatoes.
My recipe will provide you with at least 6 single servings. Depending on who’s at dinner, you’ll likely end up with a few extra servings as leftovers which can be frozen for later.
One thing to remember when making an Italian soup with kale, is that it can be as simple or complex as you want. The ingredients I’m including are exactly how I make it each time.
Although I prefer my soup not too bulky or thick, but like many Italian soups, you can modify it to your own preference. I’ll devote a section below for some additional ideas.
Broth or bullion
This can be chicken, vegetable, or even plain water. I like using bullion simply because it’s more convenient. To reduce the sodium content I mix part bullion to water at a 4 to 2 ratio (4 cups bullion and 2 cups water).
The olive oil is used to saute the other ingredients and provides the good flavor we all love. I use extra virgin olive oil. Do not use regular olive oil as that doesn’t have much flavor.
This recipe calls for two chopped onions. If you are using this as a replacement for chicken soup when you’re feeling under the weather, increase the onions for extra antioxidants.
The carrots add a little sweetness to the soup which balances out with the kale. Use 3 small carrots. If your carrots are fat and large, use 1 and half.
Celery is important for any type of soup like this, Italian kale soup or any other vegetable soup. I use 4 stalks of celery plus the leafy heads if they are available.
What kind of kale soup would this be without garlic? Garlic and kale go very well together, I even have a side dish called, sauteed kale and garlic! You may think 5 cloves of garlic is excessive, but for the quantity of soup and since this is Italian after all, trust me, you’ll be amazed at how well it tastes.
You can use frozen or fresh kale. You’ll need about 2 to 3 cups of chopped kale with the stems removed.
These will need to be diced, and you only need about 3 potatoes. The larger they are chopped, the longer they’ll take to cook, so I prefer to dice them smaller.
You can use canned, diced or chopped tomatoes with the kale soup. There is no need to rinse them.
This is for topping the soup at the end which adds the extra saltiness classic to Italian Romano cheese. Parmesan cheese will do if you don’t have Romano.
Fresh or Frozen Kale?
This is a logical question, and my honest answer would be whatever you have available will be fine for any Italian soup with kale as a main ingredient.
If using fresh kale leaves, you’ll need to remove the stems and the spine. We only want to use the thin leaves in the soup, not the entire stalk. Fresh kale leaves will take longer to cook down as well, but not by much since we add it in at the last 10 minutes. Technically it can be added earlier.
Keep in mind, using frozen chopped kale will save you time since cutting the stems and chopping is already done for you.
How much kale to use?
In regard to how much kale to use in a kale soup, I prefer more kale than less. Here are some guidelines you can follow.
For frozen kale, an 8oz bag would be good per 6 cups of soup. Although you can certainly add more. Since we often buy our kale frozen at wholesale clubs we get large bags and I never measure, I just dump some in and add more if I need to.
For freshly chopped kale, I suggest 2 to 3 cups as a guideline. That’s how much you’re seeing in my image below for my Italian kale soup recipe. The kale cooks down quickly.
Using Italian Kale in the Soup
The name Italian kale soup doesn’t mean you must use an Italian kale variety. One of the most common types of Italian kale is lacinato kale, however it’s not always available at supermarkets. Don’t let this limitation prevent you from learning how to make kale soup by any means!
I happened to have red Russian kale available the last time I made it and it tasted great. So I wouldn’t worry about what type of kale unless you want it 100% all Italian varieties. 😉
We add the kale after the potatoes and let it cook with the rest of the ingredients. This allows the chopped kale time to become soft and tender.
Remember that there are many health benefits to kale so feel free to be liberal with it.
Italian Kale Soup with Potatoes
Using potatoes in kale soup helps add bulk to the soup, along with some starchiness if the potatoes break down. In regard to the type of potatoes, I’ve used all different kinds, mainly determined by what I have on hand at that moment.
I find the best potatoes are yellow or red Yukon potatoes which have a buttery texture and flavor. They are prefect for my Italian garlic mashed potatoes recipe. I use baking potatoes (Russet) as my last choice simply because they break down more than I like in my soups.
How to Make Kale Soup Italian-Style
This recipe is similar to a basic kale soup, but with some Italian flavors that make it tastier and worthy of inclusion on my site to share with you. Once you know how to make an Italian kale soup, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It’s so easy and simple.
I’ll step you through the soup making process below with my images. You can scroll down and see my recipe card with specific measurements and notes.
Saute the vegetables
The first step is to heat about 2 or 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauce pan or pot. Add in the chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Let them cook at low-medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are tender and partially translucent.
Add the garlic
Next, add the chopped 5 cloves of garlic. Make sure to spread the garlic around when adding to the other vegetables. Let it cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the broth
Add 6 cups of the broth, bullion, water, or a mix of them. For example, I use 4 cups of bullion and 2 cups of water. However if I was using homemade broth, I’d use 6 cups of broth since mine is usually a little weak.
This is up to you. If you’re using water only, the flavor will not be very strong, so I recommend adding extra salt or vegetables to help with the flavor.
Add the potatoes
Next, add in your chopped potatoes. I suggest chopping them no larger than ½” cubes. This will allow them to cook faster in the amount of time we need.
Stir and cook the potatoes until they have softened, about 15 minutes.
Add the kale
Now we get to add in the kale. It will cook down more than you’d think, so if you want more kale add more. This is purely your preference and there is no wrong or right.
Add the can of tomatoes
Do not rinse or drain the tomatoes. Add the whole 16 ounces of chopped or diced tomatoes from the can and give a good stir. You can use fresh tomatoes, but I have not done this.
Let the kale soup simmer
Bring the soup up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for 90 minutes.
When ready, serve in soup bowls and sprinkle some Romano cheese on top.
Italian Kale Soup Variations
There are various modifications you can make when making Italian kale soup. You can mix and match the following ingredients however you wish.
- Pasta noodles – use small ones like orzo, or long pasta such as spaghetti that’s been cut up. One word of caution here though – make sure to cook the pasta separately and add it to your soup only when it’s served. The reason is that the pasta will totally bloat and get mushy if it’s stored in the soup.
- White beans – these can be cannellini beans which are known for their buttery texture or other white beans
- Kidney beans – these too can be added for a hearty flavor
- Chopped chicken – you can add in chunks of chicken to make this a chicken and kale recipe
- Sausage – there’s never a shortage of fans for kale and sausage soup ideas, but I wouldn’t use this for when you’re trying to recover from a cold or a flu!
- Omit the potatoes – that’s right, you don’t have to use potatoes in this recipe.
Kale Soup Recipe
- 6 cups water or broth
- 2 onions chopped
- 3 carrots chopped
- 4 stalks of celery chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic chopped
- chopped kale
- grated Romano cheese
- 1 16 oz. chopped or diced tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- Heat olive oil in large pan or pot over low-medium heat.
- Add onions, carrots and celery and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Stir frequently.
- Add chopped garlic and simmer for 3 more minutes.
- Add the water and/or broth. If the broth is store bought, I typically do 4 cups broth and 2 cups water. Do what you like.
- Add kale and let it cook down. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
- Add the can of tomatoes and cook an additional 10 minutes. (optional)
- Serve with grated Romano cheese on top (if serving to someone with a cold, do not use the cheese because you want the soup to have a clear broth).
- If you add potato to the soup it becomes a Kale Potato Soup.
- Serve with toasted bread on the side.
- Freeze some of the soup if you can so you can have it handy. It only takes 20 minutes to thaw on the stove.
- It is very hard to judge servings for soups because some people like soups with less broth, while others like it thicker. So if you need to add more ingredients, like more carrots or whatnot, then do so. If you don’t want to use 6 cups, use 5 or 7. Whatever you prefer.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe for Italian kale soup and that it finds a home in your own recipe box. Please let me know how you enjoy the recipe and any modifications you made to make it your own!
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