Creamy Greens Soup with Hot Italian Sausage

Greens Soup
2 Tbsp butter
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 qt chicken broth
6 cups greens of your choice, roughly chopped*
1 cup cream
salt and pepper, to taste

For the sausage
4 hot Italian beef sausages
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. In a stock pot, melt the butter for the soup. Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent; do not burn. Add garlic and stir. Cook approximately two minutes, until fragrant.

2. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Toss in greens, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until greens are just wilted and bright green. Remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, sauté sausages over low hear in butter and olive oil, turning frequently for even cooking. After about ten minutes, remove sausages to a cutting board with a slotted spoon. Cut into slices and return to pan. Continue to cook over low heat until the soup is ready.

4. Pour the greens and stock mixture into a blender or large food processor and purée until nearly smooth. Return to stock pot, add the salt and pepper and about 3/4 of the cream, and cook over low heat for a further five minutes, until nicely warmed.

5. Using a ladle, portion soup out evenly across four shallow bowls (I use pasta plates). Drizzle the remaining cream in a circle in each bowl, creating a nice garnish. Again using a slotted spoon to drain the oil, carefully place one quarter of the sausage slices into each bowl. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. This dish is surprisingly filling.

*I used fresh chard from the downtown Austin Farmers Market, half a head of lettuce I had in the crisper, and 2/3 of a standard bag of frozen spinach, which I thawed out under running, lukewarm water.

Roasted Acorn Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Humor me here. I’m trying to pretend that fall has arrived in Austin.

2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil, halved
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils, ready to go
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp salt
rosemary sprigs, for garnish

1. Preheat your oven to 400°. Place the squash in a roasting tin and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some of the rosemary, crushed between your fingers. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and roast for about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pour lentils into a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and boil for ten minutes. Strain the lentils and set aside.

3. In the same saucepan, briefly sauté the onion and red pepper in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, about five minutes. Then pour the lentils back into the pan. Add vegetable broth, along with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat for approximately five minutes.

3. Remove the now-roasted squash from the oven. Using a fork, mash the chunks and then add them to the soup. Continue to simmer for about half an hour.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with rosemary and additional pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Stella’s French Onion Soup

This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume 1). Note that, in place of the traditional Swiss or Gruyere, I chose goat cheese mozzarella. Unless you’re a convinced hater of goat cheese, I highly suggest you try it.

I also skipped the final browning of the cheese because I don’t have any large ramekins or oven-safe soup bowls. Honestly, it was just as good! In fact, I realized that I don’t even really enjoy the typical, melted cheese topping that much, as it always proves very difficult to eat with a spoon! This soup turned out so richly flavored that I didn’t feel I was missing anything at all.

Of course, if you do have oven-safe soup bowls, feel free to try it. You just assemble the bowls as usual and, instead of serving immediately, pop them under the broiler for a few minutes until the tops are nicely browned and bubbling.

4 cups yellow onions, very thinly sliced
3 tsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 qt beef stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp brandy
1 Tbsp minced onion (raw)
additional salt and pepper to taste
2 cups croutons (I made my own from scratch)
1-2 cups finely grated goat cheese mozzarella

1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter and oil over medium low heat. Add the onions, stir, and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, then uncover

2. Raise the heat to medium high, and sprinkle in the salt and sugar. Stir again and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the onions have turned a rich, golden brown. They will be very fragrant. Stir frequently to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

3. Once browned, sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir for a further couple of minutes. Pour in the stock, a little at a time, continually stirring. Add wine and additional salt and pepper to taste. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for another half hour or so. Taste to adjust cooking time or seasoning. The longer you cook it, the richer the flavors will be; but overcooking will result in a mushy mess. I think 30 minutes is ideal for this quantity of soup, but you could cook for up to 45 or so.

4. Stir in the brandy and raw minced onion. Ladle soup into serving bowls and pop in the croutons. Sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Zucchini and Red Pepper Soup

4 zucchini, washed and diced
1 large red bell pepper, washed and diced
2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 3/4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
sour cream, to taste
chili powder, to taste

1. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Gently saute the garlic for a couple of minutes, then throw in the onions and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant and soft, stirring constantly.

2. Remove garlic and onions into large soup pot and set aside. Add zucchini and peppers to skillet and saute for about ten minutes, or until they just begin to brown. Remove a small handful of these and set aside.

3. Pour the rest of the vegetables into the soup pot, add vegetable broth, and heat just to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove the soup, in batches if necessary, into a blender or large food processor and puree to desired thickness (I usually prefer smooth soups). Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in salt and pepper as desired.

5. Make sure the soup is well mixed and heated throughout, then ladle out into serving bowls. Sprinkle some of the reserved zucchini and pepper cubes on the top, add a dollop of sour cream, and finish with a light dash of chili powder. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Reheats well.

Stella’s Caldo Verde

I am not Portuguese, and I don’t know anything about Portugal, but I had the ingredients for caldo verde (Portuguese sausage, kale, and potato soup), so I made some. It was great. Easy to make, even easier to eat.

4 Tbsp olive oil, halved
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2-3 links chorizo, about 6-10 oz. (or authentic Portuguese chouriço if you have it)
1 bunch kale, rinsed and shredded
8 cups cold water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large stock pot, cook onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil until fragrant, about two to three minutes. Add garlic and stir. Continue to cook for a further minute or two, then add potatoes. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Pour water into pot and bring to a boil. Add salt, stir, cover, and cook over low heat for an additional 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

3. Meanwhile, cook your sausages in a separate pan. I brown them slightly on both sides, then add about 1/2″ water and cook over medium high until the water is cooked off. To be sure they are cooked through, use a meat thermometer if desired. Remove sausages from pan and thinly slice; set aside.

4. Once potatoes are soft, mash them in the pot. You can remove them and purée them in a food processor if you prefer, but I actually like a rougher texture for this soup. I used a standard potato masher to mash all the potatoes to a similar, rough, soupy consistency. Add sausages to pot and cook for another five minutes.

5. Just before serving, add the greens to the pot and allow them to cook for about three to five minutes. Add pepper and more salt, if desired, and ladle into bowls. Drizzle remaining (about 1 tsp per serving) olive oil into each bowl.

Best served with a crusty bread. Serves 6, and can be refrigerated for several days. It also freezes pretty well. Saúde!