Saturday, November 05, 2011

Crocks and crocks of soup!

I have another couple of terrific soups that work great in the crock pot. The wicked winter weather will come sooner or later (thankfully, later this year), and these two recipes will stick to your ribs and warm you through and through.

First, we have Zuppa Toscana, a soup not unlike the one that the Olive Garden serves but MUCH better! The sausage makes it zesty, and the kale is lovely and nutrient-rich to boot. What's not to love? This is an amalgamation of several different recipes that I perused online, adapted to suit my tastes. It's very forgiving, so feel free to put your own spin on it. But do try it!

Zuppa Toscana

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. ground sausage
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch of salt
4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons chicken soup base/bouillon
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks
1/2 bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed, slivered
1 cup cream
scant cup of instant mashed potato flakes (optional)

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and brown the sausage and onion together. When the sausage is almost cooked through and the onions are tender, add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or two. (Don't let the garlic brown!). Then add the oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, granulated garlic, red pepper, black pepper, and salt. Cook for another minute, then spoon this mixture into the crock pot. Add the quart of chicken stock (preferably homemade!), the chicken soup base, and the cut potatoes.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or until the potatoes are tender. Then add the chopped kale, the cup of cream, and if you like a thicker, chowder-like soup, up to one cup of instant mashed potatoes. Continue to cook on low for about another hour before serving. You'll get four large, meal-sized bowls of soup.

And the second soup of the day is one that someone posted on Crock Pot/Crockin' Girls. It mimics the same flavors as stuffed peppers, with a lot less labor. However, I don't like green peppers, so I swapped out some sweet red peppers instead. And I also threw in some kale, because I had half a bunch left over from the Zuppa Toscana. This recipe makes a ton, so I took the leftovers into share at work, as I often do. People LOVED it, and one colleague even said he would be making it and taking it to his relatives' Thanksgiving celebration!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb. ground sausage
1 large onion, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
4 cloves fresh garlic (I used six!), peeled and minced
2 large green peppers (I prefer red ones), ribs and seeds removed, cut into chunks (I prefer to dice)
1 (14.5oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
8-12 cups beef broth (start with 2 quarts, but you may need to thin it out more at the end)
4 teaspoons beef soup base/bouillon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (up to one full teaspoon, to taste)
pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 cup rice (I used a brown/wild rice blend)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and sausage with the diced onion and celery. when the meat has cooked through and the vegetables are tender, add the minced garlic. Cook for another minute or so. Place this mixture in the crock pot along with all of the rest of the ingredients, except the parsley. Cook for 8-10 hours on low, or until rice is sufficiently tender. Remove the bay leaves, add the fresh parsley, and correct seasonings before serving.

Makes five quarts.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't stand staring at the Stuffed Pepper Soup photo anymore so I broke down and made it! It's a keeper! Thanks for sharing your recipes and the occasional photo of your lovely pets.
Kelly from Ontario, Canada

Joy Bugaloo said...

Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for your nice comment. :-) --Gina

Anonymous said...

Going to try your recipes. I was born and rasied in Pburgh. Such a small world!

Ruth Logsdon said...

Yesterday, I made the Olive Garden like soup because my husband was having dental work done = needed soft food. It was definitely a hit with my boys. :) Thanks.

NatalieTheMBA said...

I was looking for a "franchise" Sausage & Potato soup and found yours. I'm just sitting down to eat and your recipe is absolutely delish!! I cooked mine stove-top only substituting evaporated milk for cream and using link sweet Italian sausage instead of bulk. Your seasonings make it flavorful, hearty and filling. I suggest everyone double the recipe for future quick meals!