Sausage Soup and Crusty Bread

Following Jess’s suit of “warm me up it is 11 degrees outside food”…I made this combo as Christmas Gifts for the neighbors and it was definitely time for it to resurface on this frigid January day. Disclaimer–I know it is a weekday, but this is really much more of a weekend meal…my “weekends” are usually midweek so my Wednesday soup could be your Saturday soup!

I got the soup recipe from my sister Bonnie, who got it from her neighbor Bev, so I tip my hat to Bev!

My token “gathering of ingredients” photo. I suggest you get the sausage without the casings, but I couldn’t find it.  I also only had whole tomatoes, but crushing them was easy enough.  Oh and I added an extra pepper (not photographed).  And I forgot to photograph the chicken stock (still need to post my “Kitchen Cheats” post regarding the best stock!).

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Chop, chop, then mise en place of the first set of veggies (onions, garlic, carrots, peppers). Zucchini comes later!

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Remove sausage casings, then brown and crumble sausage.  I use my biggest soup pot from start to finish (another gratuitous plug for the one pot meal).  Using a spoon remove all but half the fat from the pan (important! otherwise you have a gross fat residue on top of the soup when it is done, not to mention totally unnecessary saturated fat).

Add onions, cook until soft, not brown. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add carrots, green peppers, chicken broth, tomatoes, and basil.

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Simmer for 2 hours. 3o minutes before serving add Zucchini (cut into half circles) and orzo.

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Final photo to come.  I make my soup the day before I want it (in this case because I was having company the next day and cooking and getting house and baby ready all in one morning is toooo much to handle!), so it goes perfectly with the next recipe…CRUSTY BREAD. OH MY GOD CRUSTY BREAD. The same crusty bread recipe that has been viral on Pinterest. For good reason. So amazing, so easy…be careful, you will want to make this all the time.  Actually Jess, you could totally incorporate this bread into your kitchen for Jason’s add on calories!

Now you must have a dutch oven/cast iron pot with a lid. Everyone should have a dutch oven, no need to have the uber expensive Le Creuset.  Mine is a Tramontina, I think it was $80? I swear I use it every week, my most favoritest (yes FAVORITEST!) kitchen tool.

This is it, 3 ingredients + water + time to wait overnight…no rising, no beating, no kneading.  And people will say “Oh my you made bread”,  with some kind of admiration that you are a kitchen goddess, and then you feel guilty for letting them think so. You chose whether to let them in on the secret or let them treat you like the kitchen goddess that you are.

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In a large mixing bowl whisk flour, salt, and yeast. UNBLEACHED flour (I haven’t been willing to try what happens with bleached flour). Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.

Shaggy mixture below, I don’t know what makes it shaggy, but this is what it looks like.

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Cover with plastic wrap, leave on your kitchen counter for 12-18 hours.  Below is the next morning, see, it no longer looks shaggy.

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Heat oven to 450. Once oven reaches temperature put dutch oven with lid in the oven to heat for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto floured surface (it will be sticky).  Gently shape into a ball.  My sister (sister of the sausage soup) put a nice spin on it, I followed suit.  Cut the ball into 4 equal parts.  Place dough on parchment paper and wait until pan is hot.

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When pot is hot, place parchment paper with loaves in and put lid on. Put in 450 degree oven for 3o minutes. After 30 minutes take lid of and continue baking for 15 more minutes. Done, and done!

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And there you have it, perfect winter weekending meal. The soup makes a lot so you can eat it all week or freeze some for later.

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Sausage Soup:

2lb Sweet Italian Sausage                   28 oz can crushed tomatoes (use sauce too)

2 medium onion, diced                        2 tsp dried basil

2 cloves garlic, minced                         salt & pepper to taste

4 carrots, peeled, diced                        1 cup orzo pasta, dry

2-3 green bell peppers, diced              4 small zucchini, cut in semi circles

80 oz chicken broth

Remove sausage casings, brown and crumble. Remove half of the fat. Add diced onions, cook until soft, not brown. Add garlic, cook about 1 minute. Add carrots, green peppers, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and basil. Simmer for 2 hours. About half hour before you serve add dry orzo and zucchini, and cook. Add salt and pepper. Garnish with parmesan cheese. Makes 6 quarts.

Crusty Bread

3 cups UNbleached all purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp yeast

1 1/2 cups water

Whisk dry ingredients. Add water and mix until shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours. Heat oven to 450, place dutch oven with lid in oven for 3o minutes. Meanwhile pour dough onto floured surface, gently form into ball (or cut into 4 equal loaves). Place dough on parchment paper (if you do the 4 loaves, they will seep together, that is OK, the seam is there when it is done cooking to separate the loaves). When pot is hot, place parchment paper with dough in pan, put lid on, bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes take lid off, cook bread for 15 more minutes. Cool on rack.

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