Saturday, December 8, 2012

SOUPer saturdays - italian sausage soup

If you are distressed over the 70 degree days in December, raise your hand.

Please tell me what in the world this is about.  If I wanted to decorate for Christmas in my running shorts, I would have made plans to set up my life and family in Florida.  But I chose here because I love the changing seasons and the hope of snow, and at the very least, cold weather during tree-trimming season...

Ugh.  I'm not a weather fan right now. at. all.

But despite my woes, I am still cooking as though it's the holiday season, and boy do I have a great one for you this time.  I followed the directions exactly, producing a rich and perfectly-seasoned soup.  I found the mild sausage worked well, still yielding plenty of spice with the hot pepper sauce called for. When leftovers last for three days, drawing "yums" from John every time he warms up another bowl, I figure it's worth sharing.  

I am excited to see our forecast is showing a major drop in temps come Tuesday, officially two weeks before the "big day!"  With chaotic times ahead, full of decorating, mailing, shopping and wrapping, simmer up a pot of this to keep handy.  It's a perfect go-to!

Italian Sausage Soup - makes 15 servings
  • 2 lbs mild or hot Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 28 oz whole tomatoes
  • 6 14 oz cans beef broth (I used almost 2 boxes of all-natural beef broth)
  • 1 1/2 c red cooking wine, optional
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
  • 3 tbsp. parsley
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut length-wise and sliced
  • 3 cups pasta shells (I used bow-ties, because I already had some on hand)
~ In a large pot, cook sausage for about 15 minutes.  If in casings, pierce with fork to release 
   fat, drain, and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Our store actually had the sausage already 
   ground, so there was no need to do this.  I just cooked as I would ground beef.
~ Add all ingredients except zucchini and pasta.  Cook for 30-45 minutes.
~ Add zucchini and cook until tender.  
~ Add pasta and cook until tender.
~ Salt and pepper to taste.

Tips and Tricks:
  • I made this through the "adding zucchini" step and took it off the stove.  I added the pasta shells immediately, let the pot cool off the heat, and refrigerated the soup until the next day when needed.  The shells were softened perfectly without needing to cook.  I might suggest this method if you're making ahead, just so they don't get too soft.

Recipe slightly adapted from Gooseberry Patch, Coming Home for Christmas.