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Rustic Vegan Potato Kale Soup with Sausage


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This is a cozy, hearty vegan potato kale soup that features plant-based sausage for protein. It’s a one-pot recipe that’s as comforting as it is nutritious!

A gray ceramic round bowl has been filled with a hearty plant-based soup. The soup is chock full of kale, potatoes, and vegan sausage slices.

This is my first new soup recipe of the fall, and it’s a great one to start with.

I made the hearty potato kale soup a month or so ago, just as the weather was starting to turn cool. I loved all of the plant-based goodness in my pot: creamy pieces of yellow potato, tomatoes, onions, and my favorite dark leafy green, kale.

When the recipe was coming together in my head, however, I wanted it to be a power plate—that is, a source of vegan protein, along with wholesome carbohydrates and some healthful fat.

What protein would it be?

I thought about adding beans. But I have a ton of soups that feature legumes and greens on rotation in my home already, like my hearty butternut squash kale and lentil soup or my spicy black bean kale soup.

Instead, I decided to try a vegan meat in the soup, and I’m so glad that I did. Plant-based sausage slices not only add tons of protein to the recipe; they also contribute meat-like texture and deep, smoky flavor.

Below, I’ll describe some of the store-bought vegan sausage options that you can choose from to make the soup recipe. I’ll also walk you through through the process of making it; happily, that’s an easy process!

Inspirations for this rustic soup

This potato kale soup is in the same family as many of my favorite, rustic, wintery soups that feature tomatoes, broth, alliums, and other vegetables.

For example, it’s a relative of minestrone. If there were cabbage included, it would be reminiscent of ribollita (one of my favorite soups ever—there’s a recipe in Power Plates!).

The soup also reminds me of my cozy vegan tortellini soup, which was a favorite last spring.

And, while the flavor profile is different, the ingredients remind me a little of my potato corn chowder, in which vegan sausage is an optional ingredient.

I’m not breaking any molds with this recipe, in other words. But when there’s a type of food that one loves, it can be worthwhile to try infinite variations. I don’t know that I’ll ever stop loving bowls of goodness like this one.

What’s the deal with vegan sausage?

Let me say a little more about the protein here.

Both personally and professionally, I’m a big fan of vegan meats. They’re accessible and convenient, versatile, and they make it really easy to meet protein needs as a 100% plant-based eater.

Vegan meats existed when I first became vegan, but the brands and varieties were somewhat limited. Nowadays, there are so many options that I can barely keep track of them.

I love exploring all of the cool new products and innovations; they make this a very fun, exciting time to be vegan.

Truth be told, however, a lot of my favorite vegan meats are the old-timey products that existed in my early days of plant-based exploration.

These include Tofurky deli slices and chick’n, Yves Veggie Ground Round, and Lightlife Smart Dogs.

It also includes vegan sausages. Specifically, Field Roast sausages and Tofurky sausages.

Through the years, these sausages have found their way into many a pasta dish and soup. They’ve accompanied tofu scrambles for savory breakfast, they’ve been piled on warm bowls of creamy polenta, and they’ve been sautéed with peppers and onions.

My favorite store-bought vegan sausages

To this day, my favorite plant-based sausage options are Field Roast (I like the Italian Garlic & Fennel and Smoked Apple & Sage flavors) and Tofurky (I like the Italian variety and the beer brats).

When I feel like branching out, though, I enjoy Beyond Sausage, which has a very authentic texture. I go for the Original flavor, since the Hot Italian is a little too hot for me.

I’ve also been wanting to try bratwurst from The Very Good Butchers and Impossible brands.

Whatever vegan sausage you choose to add will impart its own seasonings and flavors to the soup.

Can I use homemade vegan sausage?

Of course you can!

When I reach for vegan meat, I’m usually reaching for something that will make my life easier and spare me effort in the kitchen. So it’s my personal preference to use a store-bought vegan sausage in this recipe.

That said, I’m a big fan of homemade staples, and I think it’s great to prepare vegan sausage from scratch.

My only recommendation is to prepare a sausage that has a really firm texture.

The sausage slices need to hold their shape twice in this potato kale soup recipe. First, they should withstand sticking or breaking while they’re being browned before they go in the soup.

Once the slices go in the soup, they should be firm enough not to fall apart in hot liquid.

Seitan is a really good base for vegan sausage. I actually have a seitan sausage recipe in The Vegan Week that I love, and you can find many recipes online.

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Vegan sausage isn’t for me. What can I substitute?

First and foremost, if you like vegan meats generally, but not sausage specifically, you could brown some vegan beef-style pieces, vegan chicken, or vegan grounds and add them to the soup instead.

If not, I’d suggest cooked cannellini beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas as a great addition to the soup.

If you use beans in place of the sausage, then add a pinch of smoked paprika to the soup. It will help to create smoky, savory notes, which is what the sausage helps to do.

A silver rimmed baking sheet is covered with a sheet of parchment and freshly baked tempeh meatballs.

Finally, I highly recommend my simple tempeh meatballs as a sausage substitute here!

But know that they’ll become too mushy over time if you add them directly to the soup. Instead, just arrange a few meatballs in the soup once you’ve plated it for yourself.

How to make vegan potato kale soup with sausage

I love that this is not only a one-pot recipe, but also a soup with a relatively short simmering time. Here are the steps.

Step 1: Brown the sausage

The goal of step 1 is to avoid adding “naked” (aka straight-from-the-package) vegan sausage to the soup.

Browning the crosswise-cut sausage slices will enhance their flavor and give them a nice, crisped texture. It reduces the chance that they’ll become mushy when they’re added to the soup.

Round slices of sausage are being browned in a large soup pot.
Browning the vegan sausage slices before adding them to the soup will bring out their flavor and give them a pleasant texture.

Browning is as simple as cooking the slices in a little oil in the same pot that you’ll use for the soup itself.

Step 2: Sauté your vegetables

The vegetable mix for this soup is onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. You’ll sauté them in olive oil until the vegetables are tender and the garlic is fragrant—pretty straightforward.

Step 3: Add potatoes, tomatoes, broth, and seasonings to the pot

Potatoes give this soup its substance, while tomatoes add acidity, umami, and flavor.

I use canned tomatoes in the soup for convenience. Use of canned tomatoes is also a nice option when tomatoes aren’t in season.

If you’d like to substitute fresh tomatoes, you can sauté them in step 2 with the other vegetables.

Onion, celery, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and potatoes are pictured overhead in a silver soup pot. It rests on a white surface.
Onion, celery, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and potatoes form the vegetable (and nutrient) rich base of this easy one-pot meal.

I like adding yellow potatoes to soups, personally, but russet potatoes are a totally fine substitute if that’s what you have.

As for the broth, you can use homemade vegetable stock, a store-bought broth, or water and vegan bouillon. Whatever is easy for you.

Step 4: Simmer away

Bring the soup to a boil and simmer it for fifteen minutes. Then, uncover it and add your kale to the pot.

You can use Tuscan kale or curly kale in the recipe. If you’re not a fan of kale, you can substitute chopped chard, spinach, collards, or another leafy green of choice. You can even add a few cups of broccoli florets for something green instead.

Continue to simmer the soup for five to eight minutes, or until the kale is tender.

An overhead image of a soup pot, which is filled with a rustic mixture of vegetables, tomato, broth, and vegan sausage slices.
After five to eight minutes of simmering, the kale will be tender, and the soup will be nearly complete.

Step 5: Season and serve

Much in the same way that many rustic Italian soups are simmered with a piece of Parmesan rind or enriched with grated parmesan before serving, I like to stir a quarter cup of my vegan cashew parmesan cheese right into the potato kale soup pot.

A small plate has been covered with a savory vegan cashew parmesan cheese.

This parmesan is made with cashews, nutritional yeast, and salt. It will add some saltiness, some umami flavor, and just a hint of texture to the soup.

I also like to finish the soup with a splash of white balsamic vinegar (which I often add to roasted vegetables as well as soups) or sherry vinegar.

A gray ceramic round bowl has been filled with a hearty plant-based soup. The soup is chock full of kale, potatoes, and vegan sausage slices.
Vegan Parmesan-style cheese, made with cashews, nutritional yeast, and salt, plus a splash of vinegar are a great way to finish this simple soup. You can add extra fresh or dried herbs as well.

Other good toppings for the potato kale soup with sausage are fresh or dried herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, or a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Meal prep & storage

As a vegan meal prep enthusiast, I’m always thinking about how long I can store things and how far in advance I can make them.

Fortunately, this soup is a great contender for making ahead. The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week and frozen for up to 1 month.

How to serve vegan potato kale soup with sausage

The soup is definitely hearty enough to constitute a solid meal.

But if you ask me, pretty much any soup is better with a slice or a hunk of bread. You don’t want a missed opportunity for soaking up all the delightful, flavorful broth that’s left in the bottom of the bowl.

You can also serve the soup with:

  • A simple green salad
  • Some extra steamed, roasted, mashed, or baked yellow potatoes
  • Focaccia
  • Tofu feta kale salad (even more protein!)
  • Crispy broccoli Caesar salad

No matter what you choose to serve the soup with, I hope that it registers as a hearty, wholesome hug.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 vegan sausage links, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch / 1.75cm slices
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed, trimmed, and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14.5 ounces canned, diced tomatoes, with their juices (1 3/4 cups, or 415g)
  • 1 pound yellow potatoes, quartered or cut into 1-inch / 2.5cm pieces (peeled or unpeeled—it’s up to you)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (substitute 3/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and dried thyme)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (950ml)
  • 1 cup water (240ml)
  • 1 bunch Tuscan or curly kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic or sherry vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vegan cashew parmesan cheese (substitute store-bought vegan parmesan cheese)

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Brown the sausage slices, flipping often, until they’re golden on all sides. Remove the slices from the pot and set them aside.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and all of the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic to the pot. Continue to cook the vegetable and garlic mixture for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, or until the garlic is very fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, potatoes, Italian seasoning, and broth to the pot. Raise the heat and bring this mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the kale. Simmer for another 5-8 minutes, or until the kale is tender. Stir in the cooked sausage, vinegar, and vegan parmesan. Continue to simmer until all of the ingredients are heated through. Transfer the soup to bowls and serve.

Notes

The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week and frozen for up to 1 month.

You know, I really love the fall.

Yet one thing that I notice as I get older is that it can be a deeply nostalgic and even a melancholy time.

The autumn months can feel unsettled, too. It’s vatta season.

All the more reason for soul-soothing, nutritious soups and stews. Sending this one out to you with love.

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