Honestly, I don’t love soup. I mean…it’s alright. But I’ll choose a solid food option over soup any day and everyday. I’ll even choose dry noodles over soup noodles. Don’t you feel hungry soon after having an entire meal of soup? I always go to bed stomach rumbling, bemoaning the fact that I chose to make some kind of fancy puréed soup for dinner instead of a good old hunk of steak.
This spicy sausage soup is not quite the same as a juicy slab of steak, but I’ll capitulate here. It is a pretty darn good soup and thanks to its simplicity, versatility, and all-around tastiness, I make it frequently in the frigid California winter months when the temperatures start dropping below my ideal temperature, 72˚F. Sure, sometimes you have to take off your sweater while you’re eating it (if not, perhaps some sweat will begin beading upon your forehead) but this soup screams winter to me!
You can easily use whatever vegetables you have languishing in the dark corners of your fridge, canned stock or homemade stock, add carbs or go carb-less, beans or no beans…the list of potential modifications goes on and on. My soup is never exactly the same every time, so I’ve offered some options in the recipe below.
Spicy Sausage Soup
Serves 4-6 (or more, if used as a starter rather than main course)
1 lb Italian spicy pork sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 lb mushrooms of your choice, sliced
2 medium zucchini or other squash, diced or sliced into half moons
1 russet potato, diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
4-5 cups chicken broth or water (about 3 cans, if using canned broth)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt and black pepper to taste
Other tasty ingredients for the soup, if desired: canned white beans, Swiss chard, spinach, leeks, tortellini, orzo, pasta shells, fresh lemon juice
- Remove the Italian spicy sausage from the casings and discard the casings. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the sausage. Break up the sausage into small chunks and brown, then remove from the pot.
- Add the diced onion, celery, carrot, and minced garlic to the sausage oil in the pot with a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is translucent, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and sauté until evenly distributed throughout the veggies.
- Add the mushrooms with another pinch of salt and sauté until they’re mostly cooked through.
- Add the zucchini and potatoes to the pot, then add the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. At this point you can season with some salt and pepper.
- Bring the soup to a boil and use a small wire sieve to skim off the scum and fat that have risen to the surface. Add the dried oregano, basil, and thyme.
- Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until all of the vegetables have cooked through.
- Add the reserved sausage and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the kale and cook 2-3 minutes until it is just cooked through, then stir in the fresh parsley, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately, with more grated parmesan and freshly ground pepper if desired.