Christmas Soup

Christmas Soup

Without fail, I make this Christmas Soup for the holidays every year. In other words, it’s a tradition. Kids love traditions, so I say, let them make the soup so they can leave a bowl for Santa. Sneaky!



  • 1 pound kielbasa (sliced 1/4-inch thick, on the bias)
  • Vegetable oil (as needed)
  • 8 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans (soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight)
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 pound red potatoes (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 6 ounces fresh kale (washed, rinsed and torn into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)


  1. Brown the kielbasa in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-low heat until it has rendered most of its fat, about 15 minutes. Remove the kielbasa from the pot and set aside. If you do not have a least 2 teaspoons of fat, add enough vegetable oil to make 2 teaspoons.
  2. Cook the garlic in the fat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the beans and chicken broth and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, stir in the potatoes, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Toss the kale into the pot, cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or just until it is tender, but not mushy.
  4. Sprinkle with the vinegar and pepper and stir to combine. Return the kielbasa to the pot and cook just until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Suzanne H.

    Very yummy. I don’t like red kidney beans, and the store did not have white cannellini beans, so I substituted Great Northern Beans. Since I was using white beans, I wanted more red in the soup, so added a can of petite diced tomatoes, and used Yukon Gold potatoes, since I was out of Red Bliss. A delicious soup, but I thought that it could use some more herbs, so added a pinch of dried basil, marjoram, and oregano (seasonings in Jane Brody’s lentil soup). Just loved the kale. The vinegar at the end is a wonderful touch–but I let my family add their own dash to their soupbowls.

  2. 2
    Kathy E

    For those of you who don’t like kale…If you put it in the soup, it takes on the flavors of the rest of the ingredients. Don’t be afraid of kale! It’s delicious in soups! For all of us vegans out there, try substituting the kielbasa with a meat substitute.

  3. 4

    Really good recipe, I made it exactly like it’s written. It was heavy on the vinegar taste which I didn’t care for much so I added a little bit of water.

  4. 5

    To those asking Could I use this?, Wuddiff I use that?… This isn’t baking, y’all. Substitute whatever you want! That’s what makes cooking FUN!!!

  5. 14
    Pete Parks

    Did not have sausage so I used hamburger and I did not have any kale so I used celery. completely out of chicken broth so I used some fish sauce. Put it in a crock pot for 8 hours on low and it was very good. Sheesh! Make the darn recipe according to the directions first.

  6. 17
    Karen DelGrosso

    Thanks Alton, I am 66 yrs. of age & never had kale before I made your Christmas soup yesterday, excellent result. Used Cannellini beans instead of red kidney & white potatoes instead of red, 1/2 the amount of vinegar cause I wasn’t sure. next time making as written. It’s a keeper.

  7. 19

    Delicious only thing I substitute the kielbasas for andouille and the potatoes with cayenne gnocchi. Very good as is but a great quick meal.

  8. 20

    Love the idea of this soup and with Polish markets abound locally I love using fresh kielbasa but for Christmas Eve Polish people don’t eat meat so this will just need to be a winter soup.

      • 22

        It is a Catholic tradition to abstain from eating meat at certain times – Fridays, during Lent, and on holy days like Christmas Eve. Most famous of this is the Italian “feast of seven fishes” which families would have on Christmas Eve in addition to attending a midnight mass.
        I agree it is incorrect to claim that all Polish people do not eat meat on Christmas Eve.
        I think that observant Polish Catholics may have a similar non-meat meal tradition.
        (* note: I am neither Catholic nor Polish)

        • 23
          Divers Wife

          I’m 46 years Catholic and we don’t fast or abstain on Christmas Eve. We only fast/abstain during Lent (Easter). I know some Italian Catholics have their own traditions, but they’re not rules set down by the Church. That being said, I’m sure this soup will be added to our buffet on Christmas eve!

    • 24

      My entire Polish family and I will be engaging in meat eating this Christmas Eve, as well as Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and Louis Pasteur’s birthday. I highly recommend it.

  9. 26
    Joseph K.

    Made this tonight, love it! I only thought the large discs of sausage were a bit cumbersome for a soup so I will dice the kielbasa next time.

  10. 27
    Mimi Kerr

    Wow! This turned out so great! I followed the recipe exactly, as best as I could, given my pantry, my preferences, and our food restrictions. So, my only differences were: homemade chicken bone broth 🙂 , bye-bye fat rendered from sausage, 1 lb cooked canned kidney beans rinsed (1 can), and I was a little short on kale, I had to stretch it with some spinach. Will go full kale next time. This soup is awesome! I knew it would be good, but I was a little surprised at just how good! Hubby loves it too, we are soupers.

  11. 30

    Loved this soup, perfect for a cold winters day. I too had an issue with my kidney beans as I only soaked them for 5 hours as I was too eager to try this soup and not wait overnight for the beans to soak. This was remedied by extending the recommended cooking time of the beans by 15 minutes! Delicious, highly recommend this lovely hearty soup! Thanks Alton!

  12. 31

    Just made this tonight. I used turkey polka kielbasa. Then didn’t have enough fat to cook the garlic so I added a little bacon fat. Kinda negated using the turkey sausage, but oh well. I’m not a big fan of kale either but it works in this recipe. Great recipe Alton!!!

  13. 32

    Just made this soup. The only thing I did differently is instead of using solely chicken broth I mixed Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth, and Beef Broth together. ( this was because I didn’t have enough of one.). I doubled the recipe so I could take it for lunch through the week. I absolutely love this soup! 🙂

  14. 34
    Roberta Hite

    I made this soup for lunch today with what we had on hand: smoked sausage and not kielbasa, canned white kidney beans and not red ones, yellow potatoes and not red ones, and had to double the smoked sausage (I couldn’t resist sampling the first). Added some red pepper flakes to spice it up for husband who LOVED this soup. It’s quite filling. I thought it was okay, not my favorite. I halved the recipe for just the two of us and it made 5 bowls full (but still used 1# of tasty sausage).

  15. 35

    This recipe is impossible to make. A pound of perfectly browned sausage sitting on the counter for 45 minutes without being consumed is too difficult.

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