What if I told you I had family members named Itchy, Frec, Pig and Swampwater? You would think I was lying. Understandably. I know Hubs thought I was telling a tall tale. But Hubs is a SoCal native and people here don’t have names like that. So before Hubs and I were married, I felt it was important to take him to a family reunion in Mississippi. That way he could meet the above mentioned kinfolk and, more importantly, have a vague idea of what it meant to marry someone whose family is from the South.
In an effort to gently ease my soon-to-be Hubs in true Southern culture, we first stopped in New Orleans. I can already hear the gasps from my Southern kinfolk. Mississippi and New Orleans have little in common outside of a neighboring border. Mississippi is the Bible belt where there is no drinking on Sundays and New Orleans has Mardi Gras and allows you to drink while walking down the street. Southern cuisine and Cajun-Creole cuisine are also quite different. If this soup were Southern it’d have collard greens and chicken, but it’s an ode to cajun-creole cooking instead with the Andouille sausage and cajun spice.
It rains a lot in the south and that hot summer day we were in N’awlins was no different. Buckets of rain dumped from the sky when soon-to-be Hubs and I ducked into a romantic little bar for some drinks and hot soup. So when I went to lunch this week at Urban Solace with some friends and we set outside in their French Quarter-esque patio, I couldn’t help but think of that day. When the rain arrived that evening it was only inevitable I make a creole-style soup.
The seasoning in this soup is similar to my Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup I made in February, it’s got a sinus-draining kick. I swapped out rotisserie chicken for pre-cooked chicken Andouille sausage and spinach for kale. I added the carrots and potatoes from this weeks CSA basket. The mint garnish was sheer accident as I had chopped both cilantro and mint. One was to garnish soup the other to add to a drink. I accidentally put the mint in the soup and it was actually better than the cilantro. The mint garnish really mellowed the spice. It was a great accident.
And what did soon-to-be-Hubs do when he actually met my cousin Swampwater? Well, that is a post for another day…
Spicy Kale and Chicken Andouille Soup
1 lb Chicken Andouille Sausage (pre-ccoked) and sliced thin
1 Bunch Kale, stems removed, greens chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
6 small red potatoes, diced 1/4 inch thick
1 small bunch carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 C. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Quarts Chicken Stock (I prefer stock in a box vs broth in a can)
1/2 Bottle of beer (not wheat based or dark)
1 Tbl. Olive Oil
2 bay leaves
1 Tbl. Emeril’s Essence
2 Tbl. Majestic Garlic Cayenne (optional, see previous post for purchasing info, or substitute 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh chopped mint for garnish (about 1/4 cup)
In a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil and salt and pepper for 2 minutes. Add andouille, diced potatoes and carrots and the cayenne garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 Tbl. Emeril’s Essence seasoning and saute another minute. Add half a bottle of beer to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits on the bottom. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, cilantro and chopped kale. Bring to a boil and reduce heat immediately to low and cover.
Simmer on low for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Serve in bowls with chopped mint as garnish.