Sunday, October 12, 2008

Soup's On

I made soup five times last week – four different varieties in all. Yes, I know. I am crazy. I was up visiting my parents for the weekend and hit up their local farmer's market in the library parking lot. Small yet very popular, the vendors sell everything from homemade granola and baked goods to corn and apples and some more "exotic" offerings like hydroponic lettuce and heirloom peppers. So picked up some softball size red peppers, a luscious head of cauliflower, several long, skinny leeks and a compact bunch of tuscan kale (that cost a buck!). I whipped up a huge batch of Cheddar Chicken Chowder for my parents to enjoy then and freeze leftovers for later. On Tuesday, the cauliflower and leeks went into the first of two batches of Cauliflower Leek Potage. Wednesday’s special was a faux minestrone I like to make to use up the odds and ends in the crisper and on Friday, I took inspiration from a favorite site and whipped up some Kale and Sausage Soup. I like that soup is generally very forgiving – use fingerling potatoes in place of red, chicken sausage in place of chorizo, shallot or red onion in place of white. It may not look exactly like the recipe, but you’ll still end up with something comforting and delicious, and likely leftovers to freeze for later (in my case, "later" being a week of Indian Summer weather that makes me want to avoid the stove!).
Faux Minestrone Some people are more the chicken-noodle type, but tomato-based soups are my comfort food. My grandmother’s brother, Uncle Dom, used to put chunks of pepperoni in his soups, so I took the idea from him., albeit using more healthy (but more processed) turkey pepperoni. This is a very forgiving “recipe” so feel free to use whatever meat, vegetables, beans, greens and pasta you have on hand. In this batch, I used Trader Joes’ Starter Sauce in place of the tomato sauce and baby spinach. Ingredients 1 T. olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 2 cloves of garlic, minced 2 stalks of celery, diced 2-3 carrots, diced 1 zucchini, diced 20 pieces of turkey pepperoni, diced (suggestion substitutions: pancetta, chicken sausage) Italian herbs and spices 4 c. broth or water Rind of hard cheese, like romano or parmesan Approximately 1 c. of tomato sauce, or canned tomatoes (if you’re opening a can, you might as well throw in the whole contents, be it 14 oz. or 32 oz. You can always add water at the end if your soup’s too thick, or some sale bread if it’s too thin) 1 bay leaf 6 oz. frozen spinach 1 c. small uncooked pasta (I like Trader Joesanelletti pasta) 1 14 oz. can of cannellini beans Method Heat olive oil in a medium stockpot or Dutch Oven over medium heat Sweat onions and garlic for a few minutes, add celery, carrots, zucchini and pepperoni, season with spices and sauté for about five minutes Add broth/water, tomato sauce, bay leaf and cheese rind, simmer for about 20 minutes Add frozen spinach, simmer until temperature comes up to just below boiling Add pasta, cook until al dente Add beans, either drained or undrained depending on your preferences and the current consistency of your soup Heat until beans are warmed through, fish out bay leaf and cheese rind and serve

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