The cold weather and the sniffles had me craving soup today, but I didn’t have any meat thawed and I did not want to go to the store for chicken or beef. I dug around in my freezer and found a tube of hot seasoned sausage and saw that I had a few potatoes, and luckily I had the foresight last time I was at the store to buy the three soup base veggies, carrots, onions and celery. The idea quickly formed in my head to make something along the lines of the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana.
I began by cubing the potatoes and carrots and put them in a pot with just enough water to cover them on the stovetop to boil. I added some salt and pepper for an initial seasoning. While that came to a boil I browned the sausage and diced the celery and onions. When the sausage was cooked through I added it to the pot of carrots and potatoes, which by then were soft enough to mash a bit.
I turned down the heat on the soup pot, and put a stick of butter into the frying pan to melt. I sautéed the onions and celery in the butter until they were mostly softened, and then added the contents of the frying pan to pot.
I like to say that you don’t make a soup, you build it, and this soup was coming together nicely. I continued construction by adding two cups of chicken broth and some spices; a little more salt and pepper, garlic, onion powder, thyme and crushed red peppers for a little added heat.
The soup was still needing something green, like the kale in the Zuppa, but I did not have kale. I thought about going out in search of some dandelion greens, but it was rainy and cold outside, and then I remembered that I had a block of spinach in the freezer. Perfect. I thawed and squeezed the water out of it and added it the spinach to the pot. Last, I added about 2 cups of milk and brought the soup to a boil, then turned the heat to low and let it simmer for a few more minutes until I proclaimed it a finished soup, ready to eat.
Served with a hearty bread like my homemade Wild Rice Sourdough, it was the perfect mix of steamy, spicy and satisfying that I needed on this cold, damp autumn day.
Here’s the ingredients list:
- 5 medium potatoes
- 1 lb carrots
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 lb spicy Pork Sausage (I like Jimmy Dean Hot)
- 1 stick butter
- 4 ribs celery
- 1/2 large onion
- 1 lb frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups milk
- Salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, thyme and red pepper flakes (optional)