I have a confession to make: I’m in the midst of a weather identity crisis. I’m a girl who grew up with 4 distinct seasons, who craves that change every couple of months. Well, now I live in a land where if it’s not too hot to go outside, it’s too rainy to go outside; yeah, there are a few magical weeks in the “spring” and “fall” when the weather is fabulous and relatively mosquito-free. But there just aren’t those breathtaking weeks in the spring when all the trees are blooming. The colors don’t really change in the fall–it’s just like one day, all the leaves have fallen off the trees. It’s devastating.
Throw in the bi-polar weather and all is not well in my world! This is the middle of October and it is hot. So…I’ve started cranking my air conditioner waaaaaay down low. Like “That Snuggie is looking good!” low. Like “Is she going through premature menopause?” low. Like “Let’s call child services because this girl is putting her 2-year-old in footie pajamas when it’s 90 degrees outside” low. But I have needs! This is soup season and it has been WAY too long since I’ve had soups simmering in my kitchen. I honestly don’t care anymore if my utility bill is ridiculous. I’ll tell you what’s ridiculous: any temperature over 83 degrees in October. There. I said it. Soup’s on, baby.
When I started my family/personal blog a few years ago, I occasionally posted my favorite recipes to share with my friends and family (yeah, look where that got me! 🙂 ). This was not only one of the first that I shared, but also one of my favorites. Ever. Of all-time. I got this recipe from my friend Jen and along with my friend Lisa’s breadsticks, it is pretty much the perfect meal. It’s my go-to meal to take to friends who are sick or sad. I make it for my family when we’re celebrating–I mean, really, there’s no bad time to make this soup and I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t just about die with happiness when they eat it.
To get started, you’re going to need about 1/2 pound of sausage or 3 links of Italian sausage (I use mild/sweet, but if you like it spicy, go for the spicy sausage), an onion, and some garlic.
Begin preheating a large soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. If you’re using link sausage, remove the casings and crumble into the preheated pot. To remove the casings, you can use a sharp knife to cut a slit down one side of the sausage and then peel back the casing. And just so you know, both Sara and I have tried taking pictures of this method and there is no G-rated way of posting those pictures…
Begin cooking sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently. If your sausage is pretty fatty, you’ll want to drain it when it’s about halfway cooked. Meanwhile, chop onions and garlic and add to the sausage. Continue cooking until onions are translucent and your sausage is cooked. Your house will smell heavenly.
Add a can of diced tomatoes, a small can of tomato sauce, some apple juice (don’t forget this or leave it out because you think it’s weird–you’ll be sad if you do!), water, and a quart of chicken broth.
Also add in a cup of chopped carrots and a teaspoon each of oregano, and basil.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. While that’s simmering, shred two medium zucchini, measure out two tablespoons of parsley, and round up 10 ounces of cheese tortellini.
When the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add the zucchini and parsley (NOT the tortellini). Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the tortellini and simmer for another 8-10 minutes or until the tortellini is tender.
Serve with bread and freshly-grated Parmesan.
Note: If you’re making these breadsticks, start the dough first, then prepare the first “phase” of the soup while the dough is rising. While the soup is simmering, twist the breadsticks, let them rise, and they’ll be done baking about the same time the soup is done.
- 3 links Italian sausage
- 4 cloves pressed garlic
- 1 onion, diced
- ½ c. water
- 2 15-oz. cans chicken broth
- ½ c. apple cider (don’t leave this out! I did once and it wasn’t the same…)
- 1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 c. sliced carrots
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 medium zucchini, grated (great way to use your food processor if you have one)
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 8-10 oz. package cheese tortellini (check the freezer section of your grocery store; if you can find it there, it will almost always be way cheaper than fresh tortellini. Also, Barilla makes a great dry cheese tortellini)
- 2 Tbsp. dried parsley (yes, that’s two tablespoons)
- If you’re using link sausage, remove the casings and crumble into a large soup pot. To remove the casings, you can use a sharp knife to cut a slit down one side of the sausage and then peel back the casing.
- Chop onion and add to pot with garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Continue cooking until onions are translucent and your sausage is cooked. Your house will smell heavenly.
- Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, cider, water, chicken broth, carrots, oregano, and basil. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add parsley and zucchini and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Add the tortellini and cook until tender, and then serve with bread and freshly-grated Parmesan.
- If you need to thin out leftovers, just add a little additional broth.