Hearty Soup – The Ultimate Comfort Food
We just returned from a fabulous vacation in Utah where we once lived for six years. The snow was great, we visited with lots of good friends and had the good fortune to eat some wonderful home cooked meals including this Sausage Spinach Soup recipe.
I don’t know about you, but I love hearty soups especially on cold, snowy winter days. I’m not talking about some fancy gourmet “broth” that can be flavorful and elegant, I’m talking about a down and dirty soup with tons of “stuff” in it that’s going to fill you up and make you feel satisfied when you are done.
I Grew Up On Canned Soups
I grew up on canned soups and have nothing bad to say about them. My kids love the new “Sponge Bob” Campbell varieties but there is just no comparison between homemade soup and any commercial brand on the market. Once you taste a homemade soup like the one I will show you how to make, all the commercial brands start to taste the same. Funny how that is.
Our friend Angie S., who happens to be a vegetarian most of the time, gave us this recipe. She cooks it with the sausage to give the soup its flavor but doesn’t eat the sausage. Fine with me, I love it and with all the nutritious ingredients like beans and spinach, I don’t mind a little extra meat.
This weekend we invited our new neighbors over for a short-notice get together and to introduce them to another local couple. After a long week, we wanted to keep it simple and serve something casual and I couldn’t wait to try making this soup. With some simple appetizers to start, green salad, a baguette of French bread and this soup, the dinner party was a hit.
Angie’s Recipe With Some Adaptations
I adapted Angie’s recipe based on previous experience and what I had in the house. I’ll mention them as we get into the recipe. This is a good one and I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do.
The recipe Angie gave me called for cooking the pasta in the soup at the end. I prefer to cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup just before serving. There are pluses and minuses doing it this way.
The negative is the pasta doesn’t get to cook and absorb all the wonderful flavors from the rest of the ingredients. The plus is the pasta doesn’t absorb all the liquid and leave you with a pot of overcooked pasta with very little broth. This is especially important if you make extra and plan to serve it as leftovers the next day.
Besides, pasta has its own unique flavor so by cooking it separately from the rest of the soup; you are actually adding an additional layer of flavor. The same is true when adding a sauce to pasta. Many of us “drown” pasta in a cream or tomato sauce. The trick is to find the right ratio of sauce to pasta so each has its own distinct flavor and neither one overwhelms the other.
Pre-washed Lettuce – Yeah or Nay?
I have to say, I am liking some of the pre-washed stuff more and more. With spinach, besides triple washing it, they remove most of the stems making it easy to work with. I especially like to prepare sauteed spinach with it.
When it comes to pre-washed lettuce, I often use the Spring Mix (also called Mesclun), a combination of several varieties of lettuce including the young tender leaves of arugula, oak leaf, mache, radicchio, sorrel, frissee and purslane. Each manufacturer has their own formula.
What I have noticed over the past year or so is the large bagged brands seem to go bad faster than the plastic tub brands. I have tested this with both supermarket brands and the large bags I used to purchase at Costco. If we didn’t consume a lot of lettuce in the first three days, we ended up throwing a lot out.
This hasn’t been the case with the Costco brand that comes in a big plastic tub. Lasts longer but what a pain trying to find room for it in the refrigerator. I’m wondering if it is the lettuce or the container. I should save a tub, buy a big bag of Spring Mix, transfer it to the tub and see if that makes a difference. Hmmmm Good.