Tuesday, January 29, 2008

hearty vegetable soup with sausage

I guess I was on a roll with the food entries and then my enthusiasm ended up petering out. It's a little tough to blog cooking. Setting up the camera, trying to remember to photograph at the most blog-friendliest moments and juggling that with the timing challenges that already exist in cooking. It makes me less motivated to keep at it on a regular basis. So I'll see how it goes.

This morning, m requested a salad for tonight's dinner because he says that he hasn't been getting enough leafy greens in his diet lately. But a salad wasn't really inspiring anything in me so I whined that there was so much cutting and washing and prepping of vegetables involved. He suggested a vegetable soup instead and even though that actually requires the same amount of vegetable cutting, washing and prepping I perked up and agreed. It's more soup weather anyways. M wanted me to cook something that would yield plenty of leftovers for future lunches. He also likes to heat up a side dish of vegetable soup when he doesn't have any vegetables with his lunch and he figures this is a good way to get veggies in his meal.

Hearty Vegetable Soup with Sausage
(Note: this makes a very chunky soup)
  • 2 big bunches of leafy green vegetable such as chard or kale or escarole
  • (I used chard and I typically trim off the green leafy parts and chop. Then I take the firmer spiny white part and chop that up separately and cook at different times.)
  • 2 medium stalks of celery chopped crosswise
  • 1/2 a medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped coarsely
  • 2-3 medium carrots chopped crosswise
  • 2 medium sized russet potatoes cubed (I cubed them about 1" around. I also don't peel my potatoes since M is convinced that this is where all the nutrients lay. I'm just lazy and don't mind the extra fiber.)
  • a little over 1/2 lb of italian sausage cut up into hearty chunk sizes (I used medium spicy Italian turkey sausage)
  • 1 15 oz can of tomatoes (I meant to get diced or chopped, but I got crushed w/basil by mistake. This might be serendipitous since it still gives a nice tomato base but without chunks of tomatoes in the broth. Which is good if you are not a huge fan of tomatoes as M is not.)
  • 1 15 oz. can of beans drained (I used kidney beans)
  • Chicken stock (I like to use Better Than Bouillon)
  • I also had an extra leek lying around that I wanted to use up so I chopped that up too (separating the pale parts from the darker greens)
Throw the chopped up onion (and the chopped up dark greens from the leek) into a large stock pot with some olive oil and sautee over medium heat. Stir occasionally and let cook until translucent. Throw in the rest of the vegetables except the beans and chard greens. Add more oil if needed and continue to cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are a little tender. It's okay if the carrots and celery are still a little firm. Throw in the sausage and stir that around too. When the sausage is mostly cooked, add about a gallon of water (just enough to cover everything but not so much that when it comes to a boil you are worried that the soup will boil over). Turn heat up to high.

At this point, I stir in some chicken stock. I prefer to use Better than Bouillon which I think has a nice chicken flavor. I stirred in about 4 teaspoons. If you are using liquid stock, this equals about 4 cups of stock, so add less water if you go the liquid stock route. Stir in the crushed tomatoes.

Let everything come to a boil and turn heat down to medium. Add more Better Than Bouillion or water to adjust taste. When the soup is pretty much ready (boiling, tastes the way you want it to), I throw in the chard greens and cover the pot with the lid. I let it go until the greens are tender too. Then, just before serving, I throw in the beans.

I'm a little worried that I didn't add enough sausage. Maybe I should have gone for the full pound. Since we had some roast chicken from the other night, I shredded up that meat and threw that in too (ooh I have to share my roast chicken recipe too). This soup seems to involve lots of throwing, it was darned action-packed in my kitchen, I tell ya.

I served the soup with some cornbread that I whipped up (I keep a box of cornmeal in the kitchen at all times, fresh cornbread is soooo tasty) since I forgot to buy bread at the market. I wanted to bake it in my pretty pyrex bowl which was a mistake because the middle was gooey when the sides were well past done. That's what I get for trying to mess with a good recipe. I pulled the cornbread out anyways and told M to just eat from the sides.

I also scooped up some cooked pasta left over from the other night and added that to my bowl of soup. I like pasta in my vegetable soup. But M took it straight up and declared the meal a success.

We estimated that this recipe made about 10 generous servings which makes M oh so happy. He loves the hassle freedom of leftovers for his lunch. At about $20 for all the ingredients from the fancy organic chain grocery store, that's not a bad deal. Also, if you want to make this as a vegetarian vegetable soup, you can substitute the chicken stock for veggie stock and omit the sausage. I might throw in the heel of some parmesan cheese if I went that route. Gives the soup a nice nutty flavor.

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