Let me tell you why I love soup. It’s warm, it’s comforting, and there’s always enough left for lunch. And, let’s be honest, soup always tastes better the next day. There’s just something about soup leftovers. The best leftovers you’ll ever eat!
Soup is pure weekend food for me. This is how I roll with soup. Do all the chopping/prepping/simmering first thing in the morning. Then transfer to crockpot. Turn on low. Go about very busy day. This particular Saturday it was baking a TON of cookies and Christmas shopping. When feet are sufficiently tired and all urge to be in the kitchen has left your body, scoop into bowls and eat. Preferably in pj’s under a blanket on the couch. Perfect.
I actually don’t make soup as near as often as I would like. Mostly because Eric is not real big on soup. That said, he wolfed down this one. HA! I spotted this soup in a holiday cookbook my mom gave me a few years back. It sounded right up my alley. First, it contains The World’s Greatest Meat – SAUSAGE! Second, the broth is simmered with red wine. Oh my goodness – YES, PLEASE! Third, it’s loaded with pasta. And veggies. And it tastes really good with a sprinkle of parm cheese and a big ol’ hunk of bread dipped in it. Mmmm.
I liked this recipe because it’s pretty customizable. Lighten it up a bit by subbing turkey Italian sausage for pork (which I did. I always do.) Swap out the pasta for an assortment of your favorite beans. Add mushrooms. Or roasted red peppers. Even spinich or your favorite leafy green. Really, you can clean out your fridge with this soup. It’s perfect for these busy pre-holiday evenings when you’re pulled in a million different directions (out in the snow and cold, no doubt!)
ITALIAN SAUSAGE SOUP (Recipe adapted from: Coming Home for Christmas)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 pounds of sweet or hot pork, turkey or chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 64 ounces beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I omitted, because I accidentally bought cilantro instead. BOO!)
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 cups small, short pasta, cooked (such as elbow macaroni or small shells. I used mini-bowties.)
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add green pepper and onion. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Crumble and cook sausage in the same pot until cooked through and no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Return sausage and pepper/onion mixture to pot. Add beef broth, wine, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and parsley. Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Add zucchini and simmer 15 minutes more. Add pasta and simmer until heated through, about 5 minute.
- Serve with crusty bread.
Note: If you want to put the soup in the crockpot to simmer for most of the day, let it cook on the stove top for a half hour before transferring to the crock. Then let it simmer on low as long as you’d like. Do not add pasta until just before serving. You don’t want mushy pasta!