Monday, October 15, 2012

Take what's (going) bad and make it good

Who's got veggies in their fridge that should have been eaten last week?  Raise your hand!  Oh, you don't?  Well, you must be a better person than I.  I like to get ambitious and buy too many veggies and then eat out 4-5 nights a week.  It happens all the time.  Last week when the hubby was sick, I decided to raid my fridge and make a soup.  I call it my kitchen sink minestrone since it pretty much had all but the kitchen sink.  Recipe as follows and you should not follow it to a T, make your own variation saving what you have from turning greener.

1 lb bacon (diced)
3/4 large white onion (diced)
3-4 carrots (diced)
1/2 bell pepper (soft spots cut off, diced)
1 super large parsnip (diced)
1.5 stalks celery (sliced)
9 tomatoes (from my garden, blend of heirloom varities)
12oz (give or take) button mushrooms (sliced)
1 package of Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausages (5)
1/2 - 3/4 box of elbow pasta (Dreamfields)
1 tbsp better than bouillon
Water (6-8 cups?)
2 bay leaves
1 branch thyme (fresh)
3 large sage leaves (fresh)
Hot Paprika
Smoked Paprika

(*all dried seasonings to taste)

In a large soup pot, I sauteed the diced bacon until it was crispy, then removed it with a slotted spoon (only burning myself in the face twice).  Set aside in a bowl.  Saute diced onions in bacon fat until almost golden/ transparent (I cut all other veggies except mushrooms while onions were sauteing).  Saute the celery, bell pepper, carrots, and parsnip with the onions, sweating them.  

Prep the tomatoes: to get the tomatoes ready, I used a paring knife to cut the part where the stem attaches out (ok, I forgot to do this part and regretted not doing it so I'm telling you to), then I used the paring knife to put a small "X" in the bottom end of the tomato.  Put tomatoes in lightly boiling water for about a minute each (until you see the skins lifting around your "X" cut), then put in a bowl of ice water to cool. Skins should peel off easily.  Quarter the tomatoes and then push the seeds into a bowl with your fingers, set aside.  Dice the tomatoes to add to the soup.  

Add tomatoes and stain seeds over pot to get excess tomato juice.  Add water (by eye depending on how much broth you want, you can add more later) and bouillon.  Add garlic and herbs - thyme, sage, and bay leaves (you can add more sage but I wimped out when a massive grasshopper scared me in my garden).  Add pasta.  Simmer until pasta is tender or up to 45 minutes, pasta will get super soft but also thicken the broth a bit.

Saute sausage in a separate pan, add to soup when done.  For some extra flavor, I sauteed the sliced mushrooms before adding them to the soup.  Add about 3/4 of the bacon back in.  Add salt and paprika(s) to taste.

Use rest of bacon as a garnish.  Enjoy!

PS- this recipe makes a pretty big pot of soup so use a large stock pot and make sure you've got room to store it in the fridge!

My hubby said this is some of the best soup I've made so I hope you enjoy it! Pretty soon I'll be off to buy all these ingredients again to make this on purpose.