Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale

Summer isn't exactly the time of year you would think to make a soup.  However, last week, we had some cool nights and this particular soup from Our Share of the Harvest just sounded good!  Let me tell you, it definitely hit the spot!  I would definitely like to add this to my repertoire of soup recipes for the fall and winter, for sure.  This was my first time cooking with kale, and I was a little bit nervous, but it worked out perfectly.  I would imagine that you could substitute spinach or any other leafy green if you wanted, but the kale was a great touch.

1 pound Mild Italian Sausage, removed from the casings
3 tablespoons Butter
1 Onion, diced
5 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 cups (loosely packed) Kale, chopped
4 cups Water (or additional stock)
2 cups Chicken Broth (I used vegetable stock)
6 cups White Beans (I used 3 cans of Great Northern, drained and rinsed)
1 (14 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Marsala Wine or Sherry
1/2 tablespoon Minced Sage
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4-1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes, depending on your liking

In a large skillet over medium heat, break up and brown the sausage, then set aside.  In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion for about 1 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the kale and saute until it turns a brighter green and becomes more tender, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the water and broth, bringing to a simmer.  Meanwhile, puree 4 cups of the beans in a food processor and add them, and the remaining whole beans, to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly combine the bean puree with the broth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Add the sausage and stir to combine, making sure that it is heated throughout.