While most people lament the arrival of cooler temps in the waning days of summer and early days of fall, I couldn’t WAIT to unearth and dust off my collection of soup recipes this week. After three wonderful – but very hot – years in southern California, Germany’s crisp mornings, drippy afternoons, and windy evenings are utter perfection in my book. Soup weather, how I’ve missed thee!
I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for Zuppa Toscana F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Oh my goodness – it did not disappoint! This is quite simply one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten. The combination of spicy Italian sausage, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and slightly crisp kale is heavenly. And the broth – oh, the broth! Perfection! My husband and I intended to eat this as leftovers over the course of a few days, but alas, it did not see a second day. Yep, we ate all 12 servings. Two people. In one day. We’re still sad it’s gone, and speak of it fondly. It is that good.
1 bunch fresh kale, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional), to serve
In a large pot on medium-high heat add the ground sausage and crushed red pepper flakes. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage until it is browned and fully cooked through. Pour the cooked sausage into a large bowl and set aside.
In the same pot add the olive oil, chopped onion, and bacon until the onions become translucent and begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Add garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Add wine to the pot and stir well to de-glaze. Combine water and Better than Bouillon chicken base, mix well, and add to the pot.
Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. (Note: You may wish to add more salt, but be careful – the chicken base is very salty. Taste for saltiness after each addition.)
After the potatoes are done, add the cooked sausage back into the soup. Using a large spoon, skim off most of the fat from the sausage that floats onto the surface.
Add the fresh kale and stir in to allow the leaves to soften slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the heavy cream. Stir.
Add freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
Garnish each serving with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.
“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” -Rumi
This statement hit me like a ton of bricks – in a good way! – when I heard it yesterday. This move from California to Germany has really tested my ability to ‘go with the flow’ – to let things fall into place without excessive hand-wringing, all-consuming worry, and internal meltdown on the scale of Fukushima. Where will we live? What will we do until our car arrives? How will I pay my student loans if we don’t have a second income? I can’t understand what anyone is saying!!!
Long story short, I need to chill the f___ out. I need to stop worrying. I need to stop dreading that every situation – finding a home, buying a car, getting a job, learning the language – is going to be difficult. I need to stop assuming that things won’t “work out”; that there will be nothing but hiccups, roadblocks, and doors slammed in our faces. I need to be strong enough and prepared enough to deal with the occasional challenge or disappointment – because there will be some, inevitably – but not ruminate about their eventuality. I need to take a deep breath, keep my chin up, and smile. I need to be positive, hopeful, and determined. I need to remember that I am extraordinarily blessed – with wonderful friends, the most loving family (furbabies included!), and a wealth of amazing experiences. Life truly is rigged in my favor. I need to start living it that way!
So, back to food. I was surprised and delighted to find a small kitchenette in our temporary accommodation here. It has just about everything I need to continue cooking and baking for our family until all of my pots, pans, and gadgets show up with our household goods in November. #rigged! The preparation space is a bit on the wee side, so I’m trying to keep our meals simple and healthy; this dish fit the bill on both counts!
The original recipe – from Food.com – listed the garlic as “optional”. Optional?! In my world view, garlic is never optional, and should be doubled whenever possible. I even swapped out Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for the garlic and herb variety. Sure, I’ll have raucous breath for a few days, but I’ve shared the wealth with my husband and so far we’re canceling each other out. That’s how it works … right?
This dish is easy to prepare and takes less than 30 minutes start to finish. My husband – who visibly cringed when I said “we’re having something vegetarian tonight” – gobbled up two of these as soon as they were cool enough to eat. So did I, despite never having been much of a tomato fan. Give them a try – you won’t regret it!
Slice the tops off the tomatoes and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes with a teaspoon, being careful not to cut through to the base or sides. Chop the pulp and keep the seeds, but discard the hard, central cores.
Place the pulp and seeds in a medium bowl. Add the parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, and pepper and mix gently to combine.
Place the hollowed tomatoes in a buttered casserole dish, and fill with the bread crumb mixture.
Drizzle the top of the tomatoes with olive oil. Bake until the tops are browned, approximately 20 minutes.