The first direction we go to develop this soup is by roasting off two whole heads of pungent garlic cloves, rendering them tender and sweet without their sharp bite. Since the garlic's journey takes place inside the oven, we were then free to dice the softball-sized onion we had in the pantry and cube a mound of buttery Yukon gold potatoes (and even though we are fans of leaving the peels on, we did remove them this time) to juice this soup up.
Once those danced around the bottom of our favorite Dutch oven (a heavy, enameled cast-iron pot), broth was stirred in and the heat was turned up to bring the liquid to a wild bubble, allowing the potatoes to cook through. Before we went to smooth out the potatoes, we stirred in all those soft, mellow garlic cloves that had been roasted off - Jeff was at the island watching and decided to count the individual cloves... we ended up adding about 19! In a panic, Jeff asked "Um, are you SURE you are suppose to add all of them because that looks like way too much!". I did my best to explain how the caramelized cloves are the polar opposite of raw cloves, but I just got one of those eyebrow-raised looks and an "uh huh".
Back to the soup... to smooth it out, you have a few options - I went with the simplest and plunked an immersion blender right in the pot to quickly buzz the soup. However, you can ladle the potatoes and liquid into a food processor or blender to do the job. If you want the ultimate texture, which is a little more effort, work the mixture through a humble food mill for the silkiest result. To add a creamy edge, we stirred half-and-half into the pureed soup, along with pecorino Romano for a salty, adult note. This whole process cools the soup down, so plan for an extra few minutes to gently reheat on the stove.
While I could have eaten this as is and been satisfied, this soup is given an extravagant topping with a nifty "pesto-like" kale drizzle and a racy concoction of browned hot Italian turkey sausage, crispy pancetta and softened onion. That drizzle was brought together by whirling together cooked kale, a touch of the same salty cheese in the soup, a ton of fresh sage leaves, toasted pine nuts, a little extra liquid we cooked the greens in and olive oil in a food processor.
I was a little annoyed with the pile of dishes I ended up with by the time I was done, but I didn't mind so much after I was lured back for a second bowl. It was worth the mess and I think this soup even motivated Jeff to lend a hand in cleaning up - yeah! I did remind Jeff of "the look" as he counted the garlic earlier and asked if he thought it came out too garlicky - I got an eye-roll response of "Yeah, I was wrong... but you don't have to bring this up do you?". Hee hee... of course I had to, he should have known better!
Tuscan-Style Potato Soup