Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Cooking.

"I eat merely to put food out of my mind."
~N.F. Simpson

Last week, I decided it was time to start making some winter soups to get me through the winter months and save some money while I'm at it. I whipped up some bean soup. Sounds appetizing, right? Eh. Well, actually it did taste good, and beans are supposed to be healthy for you, aren't they? Especially when you've mixed in lentils. I can hear you now, "Lentils? You cooked with lentils?" I know, I know, they taste kind of like pockets of severely compounded sawdust. Well, the soup was pretty good and served to provide me with meals for the last week. I still have three more servings.

I planned to go to the store on Saturday to pick up a couple of extra ingredients to make another soup, Italian sausage soup, but winter decided to arrive that night... I ended up not leaving the house because it was so snowy outside. With no snow on the roads on my way home from work tonight, I stopped at Smith's and picked up the key ingredients I was missing. This soup is similar to Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, only without the cream and bacon, so it's healthier. It's pretty delicious, if I say so myself. Plus it has mass amounts of kale, which I find so incredibly delicious in soup.

Here's the recipe:
Italian Sausage Soup

2 lbs of ground Italian sausage (½ mild & ½ spicy hot)
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
6 slices of bacon diced (cook bacon to a crisp)
1 or 2 large diced onions (white or yellow)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves of garlic)
6-7 cans of chicken broth (or approx 12 cups water with 6 cubes/teaspoons chicken boullion)
2-3 lbs of russet potatoes - unpeeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup of heavy cream (I've actually never used the cream, to reduce calories, and I think the soup is delicious without it)
4 cups of roughly chopped kale (stems removed)

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat and set aside while preparing the remaining ingredients
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon till fat is rendered and add onions and garlic for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are soft.
3. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.
4. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add heavy cream (if desired) and cook until thoroughly heated.
7. Stir in the sausage.
8. Add kale just before serving, allowing it to cook for no more than 5 minutes. Delicious!

Then, I have also had a craving for these Chocolate No Bake cookies. Yum. Made a quick batch of those. I'm thinking those won't last all winter...

Well, goodnight. I am headed to bed. I can hardly wait to fall asleep.

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