Today’s Blog Every Day in November topic is about relaxation. This is probably not too different than the post I wrote about National Stress Awareness Day. So we have a choice, dear readers. I’m either going to post the lyrics to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s song, Relax, or I’m going to crack a Southern Tier 2XMAS beer and cook something for you. Cookin’ and sippin’ is how Lady Sensory likes maxin’ and relaxin’.
Well, you’re in luck. I’ve chosen the latter and that’s thanks to today’s little jaunt to a local Italian grocer, Rubino’s. I rolled up to grab some amaretti cookies because Wegmans isn’t stocking them anymore (tsk-tsk, Danny!) and I plan on making this in a few weeks for Friendsgiving. Upon my arrival, I saw a big sign that said, “Fresh Sausage Made Daily.” Being from the Syracuse area, I’m kind of a Gianelli sausage snob but since they make it fresh daily I said to myself, “What the heck? Try something new.” I went with the standard mild fennel (they have a plethora of sausage flavors) and contemplated making sauce. I then decided that I didn’t need to get involved with meatballs, a food processor, and clothing stain nonsense, so I made a sausage soup. I’m happy to report that the sausage is just as tasty as my standard sweet Gianelli. Additionally, I managed to spend only $10 at the store and walked away with a pound of sausage, 2 packages of amaretti and a loaf of bread. It pays to support local small businesses.
I’m not a huge meat-eater, but every now and then I crave some. I could probably use some protein because I’m sure my ‘unenjoyment diet’ of PBJ, coffee, random veggies, and wine is probably not doing me any favors in the nutrition department. With a gentle nod to the beans and greens which incapacitated me this past summer, I came up with this one.
Lady Sensory’s Is That A Sausage In Your Pants Or Are You Just Happy To See Me Hearty Winter Soup:
1 lb of Italian sausage, casing removed and cut into 1 inch pieces (I used mild fennel, also dubbed sweet, but use whatever sausage variety your little heart desires.)
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed (As a side note, check out this tip that helps you peel your garlic super fast. I tried it and it totally worked!)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 cup of celery, finely chopped
1 cup of chopped carrots
2 15.5 oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice (not drained)
1 small bunch (2-3 cups) of Tuscan kale, rinsed well and chopped into bite size pieces (you can also use any variety of kale, spinach, or escarole)
2 tsp. dried basil
3 qts of chicken stock or broth (I did one qt chicken stock and 2 qts chicken broth)
1.5 cup dried pasta (I used ditalini, which are short tubes that are perfect for soup)
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil (I used a basil-infused version from F.Oliver’s)
Parmesan cheese (for serving)
Brown the sausage in a cast iron skillet on the stove or in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (your choice). Remove sausage and set aside in a bowl lined with paper towel. Conserve the sausage grease if you wish to cook your soup veggies in that, but I opted to cook my soup veggies in olive oil because I’d rather cook some turkey cutlets in the sausage pan for some added flavor. In a large fancy pot, warm your olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, then the garlic, and sauté until golden. Follow with celery, then carrots, and cook for about five more minutes. Add the dried basil, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Then add the beans, sausage, and tomatoes. Simmer for a bit (3-4 minutes) and then add your chicken stock or broth. At this point I’d like to make a comment about the Wegmans brand cannellini beans. I found 3 black-eyed peas in one of my cans. Seriously, Wegmans? That’s like bringing Fergie to a party with the cast of The Godfather. No. Just no. Sort that shit out, dude.
Bring mixture to a boil and skim the foamy stuff off the top. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil (feel free to add a bit of salt, if you wish) and cook the 1.5 cup of pasta to al dente texture (cooked with a bit of bite to it). Drain pasta and add to the soup and then add the kale and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Kale should wilt and pasta will expand a little. Serve immediately with some nice bread or a crusty roll and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. This makes about 8 decent sized servings.
Don’t think about the fat content here. Just enjoy. When it comes to sausage, go big or go home. You’ll be so glad you did.