Friday, September 5, 2014

Loaded Vegetable and Sausage Tomato Soup

We are going to play a game today. You are going to like it. I promise. It's a daring adventure. It could have great rewards or dire consequences. It's called everything ends up in soup. My step-dad invented it and if you go up against him, I promise you will lose every time. He is a risk taker and risk pays off greatly in everything goes in soup.

The concept of the game is simple. The rules are few. Look in your pantry and refrigerator. Is anything about to expire? What do you need to use up? Put it in the soup. For a variation, have each family member pick an ingredient at the store and throw it all in the soup. Are you excited now? You should be.

Really everything ends up in soup stems from my step-dad's larger cooking philosophy. Once you understand the basics of making a dish, you can take that dish and turn it into a cooking adventure. So today we will talk some soup basics. In my pantry and fridge, I had tons of vegetables from the garden, namely tomatoes, I had chicken stock, I had parmesan, and I bought sausage because it sounded yummy. Any chunky soup can built from this basic outline: cook your vegetables until softened, add your broth like items (stock, tomatoes, milk etc.), season, and cook until warmed. What elevates the flavor of this soup is the red wine deglaze and addition of balsamic vinegar. You can take this recipe and play your own version of everything goes in soup. Want chicken instead of sausage? Great. Want to add potatoes and creamy goat cheese? Go for it! In everything ends up in soup, right and wrong don't exist.

Load Vegetable and Sausage Tomato Soup 
Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups fresh tomatoes (about 8 medium tomatoes), chopped (or large can of diced tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoons italian seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cups chicken stock
4 cooked andouille sausages, sliced into 1/2" rounds
4 cups braising greens (kale, collards, chard etc.), rough chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Parmesan to serve

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and stir continuously for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Stir occasionally and cook until the onions and pepper soften, 5-7 minutes. Add zucchini and cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 Pour in red wine and let cook down until reduced by about half. Add tomatoes and let cook down slightly, 3-4 minutes. Add seasoning: garlic salt, italian seasoning, pepper, and paprika. Stir until combined. Add stock and stir occasionally until soup is simmering.

Finally, add in your sausage and braising greens and stir until the greens are wilted, 2-3 minutes. At the very end, add in your balsamic vinegar. At this point taste your soup to see if it needs additional seasonings. Add to your liking. Remove from heat and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan on top.

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