Kielbasa and sweet potatoes go together like Austin and ancestral eating.
The Paleo diet, another way of saying "eating like our pre-agriculture ancestors," has really taken hold here, thanks in part to a thriving Cross Fit community and small business owners like Naomi Seifter, who runs Picnik Austin, a South Austin eatery housed in a storage pod at 1700 S. Lamar Blvd.
At Picnik, Seifter and her crew serve only gluten-free and grain-free dishes made without any refined sugar or vegetable oil, and now that the weather is getting colder, she’s added soups, including this kielbasa and poblano soup with sweet potatoes.
Seifter likes to make it with any seasonal produce you might have on hand, which right now means any kind of root vegetable, cabbage or leafy greens. She says you can simmer the soup all day to really bring out the smoky flavors of the kielbasa — she prefers Pederson’s Farms Uncured Smoked Kielbasa — and ham hock, but you could also skip the ham hock and shorten the simmer time to get dinner on the table a little faster.
Kielbasa and Poblano Soup with Sweet Potatoes
3 poblano peppers
1 large onion
4 stalks celery
4 carrots 2 tsp. sea salt, divided
2 sweet potatoes
2 (14 oz.) links of kielbasa
2 Tbsp. bacon fat, chicken fat, or other cooking oil
3 quarts chicken stock
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 smoked ham hock
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
Turn on oven to the broil setting. Put poblano peppers on sheet tray and place under the broiler. Broil for 8 minutes until the skin of the peppers blisters. Once blistered, flip the peppers and broil for another 8 minutes. Remove peppers from oven and place in plastic bag or in a bowl covered with a lid. Tightly seal bag and set aside.
While the peppers are cooling, roughly chop onion, celery and carrots and cube the sweet potatoes. Cut kielbasa links into slices and then quarter.
Heat bacon fat in stock pot on medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and 1 tsp. sea salt and saute until soft. Add kielbasa and fire-roasted tomatoes, including liquid, and chicken stock. Once liquid is in the pot, add ham hock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Once poblano peppers have cooled, remove from bag and peel off the skin of the peppers. Remove seeds and stem, slice and chop peppers, then add to soup pot. Allow soup to simmer for at least 45 minutes.
Add cubed sweet potatoes and simmer for additional 30 to 45 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Add remaining spices and salt and adjust according to taste. Remove ham hock and serve. Serves 6-8.
— Naomi Seifter of Picnik Austin