Monday, December 23, 2013

Loaded Potato and Sausage Soup

The only thing I like about winter in New England is the comfort foods I seem to constantly make. When it's grey and dank outside, and dark at 4:30 pm, a gal's got to feel good indoors right? And that's my goal from December to February. Here's a new soup, Italian inspired, that's hearty and delicious and promises to warm you inside and out. And it's another simple, quick fix.

Loaded Potato and Sausage Soup
Serves about 6

5 sweet Italian chicken sausages
1-1/2 T canola oil
2 Russet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion diced
3 carrots diced
2 celery ribs diced
1-1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 can (14.5 oz) fat free low sodium chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) water
1 can (14.5 oz) low sodium diced tomatoes
1 can (10.5 oz) 98% fat free low sodium cream of chicken soup
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper (use less if you're serving children)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
1 cup frozen corn defrosted
3 oz fresh spinach
parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

In large skillet, brown your sausages. I like to keep my heat at medium to medium low. As they start to brown, I poke a few fork holes in each sausage, add a bit of water, cover the pan and let cook until they are almost cooked through. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. When cool, slice into 1/4 inch disks and set aside.

Prepare your potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. In large soup pot, add your canola oil. Heat on low and add onions, carrots and celery. Cook a few minutes and add the Old Bay. Stir to incorporate the seasoning. Cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes until veggies begin to soften. Now add your cooked sausage and potatoes.

Mix them with the softened vegetables and get ready to open some cans. Add the chicken broth, water, diced tomatoes and and the cream of chicken soup. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat and cook covered on a low simmer for 10 minutes. Add your spices- oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and salt. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until potatoes are just about done. Now add your corn and fresh spinach. Turn off the burner, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. You're loaded Potato and Sausage Soup is done. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired and dig in with some nice crusty bread. It's the perfect utensil to soak up the creamy, rich broth. And you don't need to serve any vegetables with this meal, 'cause they're all in the soup!

As much as I dislike winter in New England, this sure is a fine dish to welcome in the start of the season. And on that note, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oniony Pot Roast

I've been making and loving my mom's pot roast since I started cooking and it's so simple it seems silly. It's 2 or 3 onions sliced, a little garlic, a bay leaf or two, salt, pepper, a bit of beef broth and water. I braise it on the stove top for 2-1/2 to 3 hours and it's ready to serve. How easy is that, right? Well I came across a recipe that was a crock pot roast and it kind of reminded me of mom's and I had to give it a try. Equally as simple, but with a few more flavor boosts. But remember, I don't have a crock pot- so I converted it to a stove top meal and it's as good as any pot roast I've ever made. The aromas will simply have your mouth watering after about an hour, which of course will give you plenty of time to make your side dishes. How about egg noodles and a broccoli casserole, or mashed taters and string beans?

Oniony Pot Roast

2 T canola oil
2-3 pound chuck roast
1 can beef broth (I use the no fat low sodium)
2 onions sliced (this was my addition to the recipe)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (again I use the low fat)
1 package onion soup mix (I buy store brand- it's 1/2 the price of Knorr or Lipton and just as good for this recipe)
1 T Worcerstershire sauce
1 T red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 dried bay leaves (the original recipe called for 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/4 tsp black pepper

Notice I left out the salt. I don't even think the original recipe called for salt, most likely due to the sodium content in the onion soup mix.

Ready to cook? On medium to high heat sear your roast in oil. I didn't even season mine. Just brown it on all sides to keep the meat juicy while it's bathing in the broth. Here's a picture of mine before I browned the short sides.

While your roast is browning, mix together all sauce ingredients.

When meat is sufficiently seared, remove it from the pan and add the onion/broth mixture to the hot pan. Deglaze the pan by stirring up the browned bits from the roast. Now add meat back to the saucy pot and bring to a high simmer. Cover, reduce heat and cook on low for about 3 hours. I promise you, you will enjoy this meal. And try and save some of the beef and onion sauce for a sloppy sandwich, which is most of the reason I make a pot roast. Very yummy.