1 lb Italian Sausage (casings removed if necessary)
4 oz bacon (about 4 slices), diced into small pieces*
1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/2 lbs Russet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed then sliced into halves, halves diced into 1/6-inch slices
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly crushed**
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups packed chopped kale
Finely shredded Romano cheese for serving, optional
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage into 1-inch pieces and add to saucepan. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Drain sausage onto a plate or baking dish lined with paper towels, set sausage aside. Add diced bacon to saucepan, return to heat and saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced onions to bacon in saucepan and saute mixture until bacon is cooked through and onions are translucent, about 3 - 5 minutes longer.
Add chicken broth, water, sliced potatoes, sugar, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Bring soup just to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and stir in cooked sausage. Cover saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are nearly tender, about 10 - 15 minutes. Add in kale then simmer until potatoes are soft and kale is tender, about 5 - 10 minutes longer. Stir in half and half and warm through. Use a spoon or ladle to remove excess fat from top of soup if desired. Serve warm topped with Romano cheese.
*I added some extra cooked bacon to the top as well, mostly for pictures purposes though just so you can see that there is bacon in this soup. It doesn't really need it though...but I'll never turn down a little extra bacon.
**To crush the fennel seeds up slightly, just place them in a small resealable bag, seal the bag then use the flat side of a meat mallet to break them up a bit.