A few posts back, I asked you to guess what's cooking by looking at a picture of something steamy on the stove. I'll bet some of you even lost sleep over it, wondering what it was. Almost everyone guessed chili because everyone knows I like chili and the picture did look like it might become chili because of the red kidney beans. Appearances can be deceiving and you all know my ingredients can sometimes be sneaky. It's just soup, folks.
I put my favorite pan on the stove, looked in the fridge and freezer to see what was there, opened the pantry door to see what would catch my eye and jump out at me from the shelves, and it all ended up being just soup.
There's really no recipe; just some fresh ingredients, some leftover ones, a few potatoes, some seasoning, and of course, those sneaky beans. But it isn't all their fault. Sausage had a lot to do with it and some veggies that were planning to become science projects in a few days decided to jump into the pan--with the exception of one lone carrot that was trying to escape. One of the nicest things about soup is that it's very open and accepting of almost any ingredient you want to put into it and it doesn't care if you measure anything. Just toss it all in and call it soup. Works for me and I think the soup was happy, too, because it got to fulfill its mission in life which is to be warm, nourishing, and soul-satisfying.
Since this is a foodie blog, I should probably give you the recipe for Sausage Soup. By the way, this is NOT the way to write a recipe, just in case you're in my cookbook class. It's called the "paragraph format" and it hasn't been used since the olden days in cookbooks because home cooks (your mothers and grandmothers) rebelled because the recipe was confusing to follow.
Depending on how many people you're planning to feed or how much leftover soup you want, prep a few skinless Cheddarwurst sausage links by cutting them into cute angles. Make some room on the cutting board and slice some carrots into pennies. Chop up the same amount of celery. Thickly slice a yellow crookneck squash and then cut the slices into quarters. (This is beginning to sound like a money soup--first pennies, then quarters.)
Peel a medium-sized onion, cut it in half, and run that baby under cold water so you don't cry. Lay the first half flat side down and slice width-wise from the top down in concentric circles, keeping all the slices together. Then slice it length-wise from one end to the other. If you're crying at this point, you're doing it all wrong. Turn it halfway around (still in one piece) and finish slicing by cutting it length-wise again from the other side. No tears and you have a perfectly-chopped half onion. Do it all over again with the other half.
Take 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you want your soup) and mince them very fine. Just push them to the side and let them sit there for a while. They don't mind; they're used to waiting until the last minute before the one cup or more of chicken broth and a 14 oz. can of Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes hit the pan.
If you want to be wonderfully efficient and have everything ready
to go into the soup at the same time, scrub 3 or 4 red-skinned potatoes, cut them in half, and then into obtuse angles. And now, here come the beans! Drain and rinse a 15.5 oz. can of red kidney beans. (I rinse mine in a colander under cold running water.) Set the potatoes and beans aside.
You know how much I love nonstick cooking spray as opposed to sauteing stuff in olive oil or butter because it works just as well and saves you hundreds of unnecessary calories plus the cost of the olive oil (and eevo is expensive). Spray your pan with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray and heat it up over medium-high heat. When it's beginning to smoke just a little bit, add the sausage, carrots, celery, squash, and onions. Stir them all together while the sausage browns a bit and the veggies go limp. When you think they're done, add the garlic and let them all get to know each other for about a minute and a half.
Pour in the chicken broth and the diced tomatoes. Stir to get everyone all acquainted. Add whatever seasonings you want in any amount that you want. I added Mexican oregano, freshly ground black pepper, Tone's Spicy Spaghetti Seasoning (I have a humongous jar I bought at Sam's and have to find creative ways to use it), along with some crushed red pepper, chili powder, cumin, and fajita seasoning. (I live in San Antonio and these seasonings are actually required in all soups. If you don't put them in, the Tex-Mex police come knocking
at your door and throw jalapeno peppers at you when you open the door.) Bring to a boil, stirring once or twice, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for about a half hour until the potatoes are done, stirring occasionally.
And that's it--it's just soup. If you want, you can dress it up with a sprig of parsley.