It has been atrociously humid this past week. To the point where my hair has gone into what I affectionately call “cave girl mode.” :) So it might seem weird that the other night I was in the mood for soup when it was so hot out. I remember hearing a story on NPR about how people that live in India, eat really hot, spicy food when it gets very hot outside. Apparently it actually helps to cool you down? Who knows. I haven’t looked up the science behind the whole idea, but a bowl of hot, mildly spicy soup certainly did me well the other night. :)
I have always wanted to try making my own soup, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I was inspired by this post on Well Done Blair. She takes fantastic photographs, and has some great recipes and general food advice. She gave some great advice on what is needed for basic kinds of soups and stews.
I adore the sausage soup served at both Bertucci’s and the Olive Garden, so I decided to attempt a variation on their soup, and I have to say–I am not braggart, by my goodness…it was DELICIOUS! I decided to use sausage, kale, and lentils as well because, well…those are my three of my favorite foods! I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery, chopped
1 tsp thyme
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
6-8 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2-1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
kale (1 bunch)
salt & pepper (to taste)
4 red potatoes (chopped)
1 to 1-1/2 lbs sausage (out of casing)
1/2 lb lentils
1 can cannelini beans
parmesean cheese (optional)
cilantro, chopped (optional)
Chop up everything in advance (which is the best cooking tip probably of all time–a lesson often learned the hard way). Side note: I ADORE my Rachel Ray knife. I don’t use it too often to keep it in good shape, but when I do I practically give it a hug every time. I’m not the biggest Rachel Ray fan, but her knives? Those are a-okay with me. :)
I kept the celery tops, as suggested in the post I linked to above. They added a nice little flavor, plus it saved me from wasting food.[caption id="attachment_188" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] I love how pretty freshly chopped veggies look![/caption]
Chopped up potatoes & kale…yum! I like to keep the skin on my potatoes.kale…so healthy…so delicious.[/caption]
Cover the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of olive oil. Heat up the oil on the medium setting. Add in the onions and thyme. Cook until the onions are translucent…I LOVE the smell of this.[caption id="attachment_191" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] this smells like heaven to me![/caption]
Add in the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add in the carrots and celery. Add in 1/2 tsp of ground ginger. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Next, add in the sausage (out of its casing). Break up the sausages with a wooden spoon until all of the meat is browned. Add in 1/2 tbsp of cayenne, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and salt & pepper.
Pour in 1/2 cup of white wine, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Alcohol helps to bring out more flavor in dishes, so I figured that by adding in the spices early and simmering everything in just wine, it would bring out more intense flavors. I think it succeeded!
Add in all the chicken stock, as well as the rest of the spices (2 tbsp paprika, 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper, salt & pepper). You can adjust the spices as you like–this came out with just enough kick, but if you want more or less, simply adjust the amount of cayenne accordingly.
Add in the lentils and bring everything to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add in the potatoes. Let it boil for about 5 more minutes, then add in the kale and beans. Cover the pot and turn down the heat to low. Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are done (probably 10-15 minutes).
I added a little bit of chopped cilantro and grated parmesan cheese on top of my serving–this is totally optional. It’s not the most photogenic dish I’ve ever made, but it sure is tasty.[caption id="attachment_193" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Not the prettiest soup ever, but super delicious.[/caption]
And that’s it! If you chop up everything ahead of time, this recipe is really easy to make. Soups are really fun because there are so many variations you can create. Have fun and experiment! :)