now begins the fall cooking extravaganza! everyone knows that warm, slowly cooked soups with big punches of flavor warm the body and soul. and tastes real good. one of my favorite things about making a huge pot of soup is the way it stretches through the week, and choosing your portion size. want a huge bowl of soup? take it. want a little cup? that’s fine, leave the rest for lunch tomorrow. soup is easy and really cheap. the minestrone soup i made last week was particularly comforting, as i made it on a cold, crisp day when the clouds imparted a grey overtone all over the skies. the day before was yellow and comfortable, but autumn settled in, and that was a cold reminder that it was time to put my sandals away! another reminder that it was time to put my sandals away? i was stirring hot soup while wearing them, and felt a burning “drip, drop” on my big toe. i now have a blister under my nail bed. lesson: learned.
this soup is full of goodies, both in the tasting and nutritional sense. i feel that this might be something i crave on a sick day, being made up mostly of broth and healthy veggies. not to mention, i made it a little spicy, which always clears my head when i am feeling stuffy. we picked at this soup all week, and i’d say it made about 6-8 generous servings. give this soup some real love and time to simmer. the key to a good soup is cooking it, letting it cool for an hour or so, and reheating it. this allows the veggies time to soak up all of the flavors and soften before you serve. the broth will thicken somewhat when cooled because of the pectin in the tomatoes. trust me, this soup, like most, is good a few hours or even a full day after it is cooked! another trick of this soup is the cheese rind. the cream from the cheese really brings all of the flavors together. it is well worth a trip to the store to buy a block of cheese for the added salty, nutty creaminess this will sneak into the soup. use the rest of the cheese to top your hot bowl of soup.
2 carrots, scrubbed & chopped
2 stalks of celery, ends retained, cleaned and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 can fire roasted tomatoes in sauce
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp or more red pepper flakes
pecorino or parmesan cheese rind, wrapped in cheese cloth
1 bunch of basil, stems trimmed
salt and pepper
4 small italian sausages, sliced and browned
cut sausages into bite sizes. brown in a skillet and set aside.
in a large pot or dutch oven, saute the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes in a splash of oil until just brown and fragrant. quickly pour in the broth and cook over medium heat for half an hour or so.
using an immersion blender, puree the soup until the veggies are tiny shreds floating in the broth.
throw in the tomatoes and cheese rind. cook for an additional hour over low heat. stir and poke the cheese rind with a spoon every 10 minutes or so to squish out some of the cream. throw in the cooked sausage and cook for another half an hour.
taste soup and add salt and pepper as desired. be sure you wait until just before serving to salt and pepper this soup and the flavors change quite progressively while cooking.
stir in basil just before serving. top with cheese.
i also boiled up some rice noodles to throw into brian’s share, which he really loved. i ate some of the noodles too and they were really tasty in this soup. -hey, you only live once.
oh, and here is a bonus pic of the spider that made brian scream something fierce when it crawled out of his lawn chair while i was cooking this soup. this spider was as big as my thumb. it was horrible and scary! no wonder brian screamed! he only has 7 legs, i think he got into a battle with sparky! sparky likes to pull the legs off of crickets, spiders, and any critter that comes into the garage.