Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Last week we had a Potluck lunch at work. We have these about every 2 months and they're a lot of fun. The feast included appetizers like homemade salsa (very spicy and right up my alley), cheese and sour cream dips and spreads of every kind imaginable (I did not bring in my Sriracha dip), and of course the fresh, raw vegetables which are usually saved for the following day to ease our guilty consciences and still sated bellies. Then there were the chicken salad sandwiches on soft Polish rolls, hot plates of meatballs, chili, soups and pasta dishes galore. Too hard to choose one and too much to choose from. I was in heaven. A kid in a candy store. And desserts, homemade and bakery bought. In heaven I tell you! Well you can't eat everything (at least I couldn't) but I did pretty well. I won't tell you all that I consumed but I will tell you that the Sausage Soup made quite an impression on me. I got the recipe and made a reasonable facsimile last weekend. I say facsimile because Linda F, the maker of the dish didn't really follow the actual recipe either. She's a re-mixer like me. With the original recipe in hand I made my first soup of the winter season and it was sooo good. One thing I keep re-discovering about myself is that I love soup as long as there's an abundance of stuff in it. And this soup has stuff. Here's my version which I'll call Two Linda's Sausage Soup.

Two Linda's Sausage Soup

1 T oil (I used olive)
6 sausages (I used sweet Italian)
1 1/2 cups onions diced
2 tsp garlic, about 4 cloves
1 zucchini halved and sliced 1/4 inch
1 summer squash halved and sliced 1/4 inch
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (I love this seasoning)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 box 32 oz chicken broth (original recipe called for beef broth)
1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
1 8 oz can of water
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (you can add more)
4 cups fresh spinach
1 can 15.5 oz cannellini beans rinsed
Parmesan cheese to garnish

On medium heat, in large pot brown sausages in oil. When they're golden on all sides remove to a plate to cool (they're not fully cooked yet and will finish cooking in the broth). In the small amount of fat that remains in the pot add onions and saute until softened. Lower the heat a bit if they seem to be browning too much- my stove cooks everything too high. When the onions have softened add garlic, zucchini, squash, Old Bay, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. While these are cooking, slice sausages into 1/4 inch rounds. Add broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, oregano and cayenne. Increase heat until soup comes to a near boil. Add reserved sausages. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add spinach and beans, cook 5 minutes and soup's ready. Top with parmesan.

Ready for the Re-Mix? This is so re-mixed already but here goes... The original recipe was titled Tortellini-Sausage Soup and called for a 12 oz package of cheese tortellini. Linda F opted not to use tortellini and instead used a small cut of pasta. She warns if you're using pasta, cook it separately and add it at the last minute or better yet- to each individual serving bowl so it won't soak up too much of your broth. I chose to open a can of beans instead. Not because I'm lazy, which I am, but I've been on a bean kick lately. Next time I think I'll add whole wheat orzo. Now if you're not a fan of either beans or pasta and want more stuff in your soup, add a diced russet potato 25 minutes after your soup's been simmering. The original recipe also called for a small bag of baby carrots. Linda used them in her version. I didn't, but I did take the liberty of adding all the other veggies. And speaking of other veggies, how about tossing in a bag from the freezer 10 minutes before serving time? Oh, and the sausages. They can be removed from their casings and sauteed. That's how Linda did it. I made disks out of mine. I think you get the picture here. If you have the right seasonings and broth measurements you're going to make a great soup. In closing, I'll borrow a line from my old life in advertising, "the pasta-bilities are endless." Enjoy!

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