Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cold Weather Means Soup!

Happy New Year everyone.  I have finally rested and recouped from the holidays.  How about you?  Hope yours was as much fun as ours.  There were good friends, gifts, grandsons, and lots of fabulous food.  What more could you ask for?

We received a marvelous gift from our children that brought us into the present century - a flat screen television!   Yes, we still had a big old dinosaur television.  The funny thing is, we had bought one for ourselves as a Christmas gift to us the morning of Christmas Eve.  We decided it was time.  (Ya think?)  As our two daughters and I were preparing to put food on the table for Christmas Eve I casually said, "Hey, guess what we got today."  They both turned and looked at me and asked, "What?"  They had that look on their face.  You know the one - like something's up?  Anyway, I said a flat screen television.  They looked at each other and then looked at me and one of them said, "Well, now you have two I guess."  We laughed hysterically.  It was a truly funny moment.  Our second daughter said, "We waited until yesterday to get it for you because we were afraid this would happen.  When you hadn't gotten one by yesterday, we went ahead and got it."  Oops.  How did I know?  The good thing is, we took the one back that we had bought and now we can get something else with the money.  That, my friends, is a good thing.  We have a new television and a choice to get something else.  We're still thinking.

The other spectacular gift we received was a Keurig coffee maker.  We have really come into the present century, let me tell you!  Coffee on demand, one cup at a time and a flat screen television.  Could life get any better?

I suppose you all are experiencing the polar vortex (a new weather term for me) just like the rest of us?  Cold?  No thanks.  Not a fan at all.  It can leave and not return for the rest of the winter and it will not hurt my feelings in the least.  It  was 2 degrees this morning.  Ugh.  Hasn't been this cold in Nashville for 20 years.  It's supposed to be 60 on Saturday.  Now that's what I'm talking about!!  I'll take  all of that I can get.  Maybe a sweater in the evening, no heavy coats, hats, gloves, scarves, boots and whatever else you have to put on to stay warm.  I.  Am.  Over.  It.

In case it's not going to warm up that much where you are, I have a great soup for you that I made for dinner tonight.  To us, cold weather means soup - really hot soup.  Do you like your soup really hot?   Please, don't serve me luke warm soup.  Ew.  Hot.  Hot.  Hot.  The only way to eat soup.  Sorry, I digressed.  Actually, I could eat soup every day - even in hot weather.  I know.  I'm weird that way.

We had chili on Sunday and Monday, because I make lots of soup when I make it.  It gets better each day AND you don't have to cook again.  That is a super benefit for making a big pot of delicious soup. Tonight, I was going to make potato soup.  Yum.  One of our favorites.  I peeled the potatoes, and chopped an onion.  When I got the onion out of the fridge (yes, I keep my onions there), I noticed there was a pound of breakfast sausage that needed to be used.  Okay, I'll throw it in the soup.  So, I browned it up in a saute pan.  Oh, and there was a 10 ounce box of spinach I had thawed for another recipe that I didn't make.  It needed to be used.  Okay, I'll throw it in the soup.  Why not?

I didn't want the soup to be bland, so I added a can of Ro-Tel for a little zip.  Well, why not add some cannellini beans too?  Sure, drain and rinse a can of cannellini beans and throw them in.  Yes, there was a parmesan cheese rind in the fridge too.  Toss it in.  Add a box of chicken stock and enough water to cover everything.  Add a couple pinches of red pepper flakes, and let it all cook until the potatoes were done.   Dynamite!

When I was ready to serve the soup, I poured a drizzle of olive oil over the soup and added some freshly grated parmesan cheese.  For the coup de gras, we had big pieces of crusty garlic bread drizzled with olive oil to mop up that delicious broth.  If I do say so myself, it was one fantastic meal!  Yum.  Yum.

If you wanted to make this soup vegetarian, just leave out the sausage and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.  It is also gluten free for all of you who have to watch your gluten intake.  Don't you love one pot meals?  I sure do.  Here is what you need to make this soup.  I really don't know what to call it.  If you have an idea, let me know.

1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 TBSP butter
1 pound breakfast sausage, hot or mild, or 1 pound Italian sausage, browned
1 10 ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry*
1 14 ounce can cannellini beans (or you could use kidney beans)
as many potatoes as you would like, peeled and cut in chunks - I used about 2 pounds
1 32 ounce box low sodium chicken stock
1 can Ro-Tel
parmesan cheese rind optional

salt and pepper to taste
a couple pinches crushed red pepper flakes
olive oil for drizzling
freshly grated parmesan cheese

*If you don't want to use spinach, you could use chopped kale or swiss chard.  Either one would be delicious.  I used the spinach because I had it.

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions until translucent.  Add the minced garlic.  While you are cooking the onions, brown the sausage in a saute skillet and drain.  Add the sausage, cannellini beans, spinach, Ro-Tel, and chicken stock to the onions and garlic.  Use enough water to completely cover all the vegetables.  Add a couple pinches of crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook until the potatoes are fork tender.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  I used freshly ground black pepper in each bowl when served or you can add it to the soup pot.

When you serve the soup, drizzle a little olive oil over each bowl and grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top.    Serve with some crusty bread and ENJOY!

This soup was so hearty and delicious and really good for a "throw together" soup.  I really wish you could have shared a bowl with us because it sure hit the spot on this frigid arctic night.  And then, you should have seen what we had for dessert.  Oh my.  Come back tomorrow and I will show you and give you the recipe.  It's fantabulous.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.  Edith Sitwell