Just because there was soup around the house didn't mean that I could skip out on this week's challenge, and so once Mom said that she wanted to make minestrone, we decided that I could make my own take on the zuppa toscana and my favorite roasted tomato soup to round out a trio of Italian soups, better-than-Olive-Garden's.
We played with plating this time around. Of course, Mom found a mini, flexi-tripod -after- I took all the pictures.
Completely forgetting that there was still some store-bought vegetable stock in the fridge, I got started with homemade stock by using up some asparagus ends that I'd been holding on to, as well as some carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. I then opened up a quart and a half of canned tomatoes from last summer's garden and put the tomatoes onto a baking sheet, tossed with salt and pepper, and roasted them in the oven to bring out their natural sweetness. Also, for some reason I decided to use the pre-ground pepper instead of cracking it fresh, like I usually do; of course, this meant that the shaker guard on the pepper would get stuck in the lid and that my tomatoes would end up getting a LOT of pepper on them.
Once the tomatoes were roasted, I put them in a pot and strained the seeds out of the reserved liquid, took the boat motor to it, then added just enough veggie stock to thin it down a touch. Since it's winter and I didn't have any fresh basil on hand, I had to go with a much higher proportion of dried basil.
For the potato and sausage soup (I really hate the name 'zuppa toscana'), I didn't do anything too spectacularly different from what you might find in any given knockoff recipe, except that I stuck to what greens were available in the garden. I grabbed some collard greens and some arugula, and decided to go with the arugula. Collards, having already sacrificed their place in the garden, were kept for some fun with photography and went back into the stock pot for more veggie stock. The soup itself is easy - just throw the vegetables into some chicken broth and simmer until the potatoes are almost cooked through, then add in the meat, then add in the greens toward the end and finish it off with a splash of half and half or cream.
I'm getting slightly better at this picture-taking thing, but this one is just so... white!
It was a good lunch, and there is now plenty of soup to keep us warm with all of the nasty weather that's going around.
Vegetarian Roasted Tomato Soup
- 1.5 quarts (or one large can) whole or quartered tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet, reserving the liquid for later use. Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven at 325 for 55 minutes. Transfer the roasted tomatoes into a pot, and strain in reserved liquid. Puree, then add vegetable stock and herbs. Simmer 30 minutes, adding additional herbs as desired.
Italian Potato and Sausage Soup
- 2 big russet potatoes, diced
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 4-5 handfuls arugula, kale, or deveined collards
- 1/2 cup half and half
- Pepper to taste
Place the potatoes, onion, and garlic in a pot and cover with chicken broth. In a separate pan, cook sausage and bacon. When potatoes are nearly fork-tender, add the meat to the pot, draining off some excess fat if necessary. Taste broth, and add water until the salt and meat flavors are diluted to taste, add pepper if desired. Add greens and simmer at least 10 minutes more, longer if using collards. Stir in half and half before serving.
Total Prep/Cook time: 1.5 hours for vegetable stock and two soups
Family happiness rating: 7/10 - quality standard fare, but nothing we haven't eaten before.
See the full tomato soup album here.
See the full potato and sausage soup album here.