Soup is one of my favorite things to make. It’s versatile, it’s forgiving, and it makes the whole house smell good. Well, that and it makes everyone who walks in the door salivate. A hearty winter soup is my idea of the perfect meal. Add a homemade bread of some kind and I’m in heaven. I always make more than I actually need, just to have some in the fridge, to warm up quickly for lunch on a busy day, or enjoy a bowl along with some cheese and fruit or a nice salad to make a filling healthy dinner choice. Most soups seem to get better on the second or third days. My biggest problem at the inn is that I rarely use an actual recipe to make my soups, so guests who ask me for a recipe more than a day or two after trying it here could be out of luck. I start with the basics – onion, celery and carrots and a chicken, beef or vegetable stock. (and even those I rarely measure) But then I improvise. I look in the fridge or pantry to see what I have on hand. It’s a great way to use up small quantities of vegetables left over from other recipes.
Here’s a tip for soup-making.
If your recipe calls for pasta, rice, or barley and you plan to make more soup than you’ll eat immeditely, it’s best to cook those items separately (in some of the soup stock if you want) and store in a separate container in the fridge. As you heat individual quantities of soup, add the starch to just the amount you plan to eat. The reason is that if you cook these items in the soup itself, they will continue to absorb liquid while they are stored and become soggy.
Here’s one of my “go to” recipes, Sausage, Kale and Bean Soup. It doesn’t take long to assemble or to cook. I like mine full-flavored with Italian Sausage and Beef Broth, but you can substitute turkey, chicken or vegetarian sausages and broths. You could even use a pre-cooked sausage cut into small pieces.
1 lb ground Sausage – I like Sweet Italian, but you can use turkey or chicken sausage or vegetarian meat substitute
1 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 – 14 oz. cans canellini beans
2 – 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes – do not drain
6 cups beef broth (or use chicken or vegetable)
4 cups Kale – chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seeds (don’t worry if you don’t have these – the soup will still taste wonderful)
Salt and Pepper as needed.
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
This recipe gives about 3 quarts of soup, so choose a soup pot that will hold at least 4 quarts.
Put the olive oil in the bottom of the pot over medium heat. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes translucent and then add the garlic. Saute for a minute. Add the ground sausage. Cook until no more pink is visible. Add the beans, the tomatoes with their juice, and the beef broth. Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, fennel and kale. Cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed. I generally find the broth gives enough salt, but it’s to your personal taste. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Gives about 12 one-cup servings.
The White Oak Inn
The Broad from Ohio