Soup, soup, soup!

I’ve been in a real soup making mood lately. Two weekends ago it was Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup, then last weekend I made up a Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup and Baked Potato¬†Soup. All so good and so different. Enjoy!

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Italian sausage and white bean soup – My boys both love sausage, so I try to use it pretty frequently. I made this a couple of months ago for the first time and shared it with my neighbors. They loved it and I loved it, and I’ve been a slacker for waiting this long to post the recipe – sorry guys! ūüôā

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage, removed from casings (I used Publix Greenwise Italian Chicken Sausage
2 onions, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
6 carrots, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
8 cups chicken broth
26-oz box diced tomatoes (or 2 14-oz will do)
4 bay leaves
4 cans white beans (mix of Great Northern and Navy)
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise then into 1/3-inch sections
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1″ pieces
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.) Add olive oil to a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat and sauté sausage, breaking it into smaller pieces, until it is browned. Remove sausage from pot and set aside.
2.) In the same pot, add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add chicken stock, browned sausage and remaining ingredients (except 1 can of white beans).
3.) Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add last can of white beans* and simmer 5 more minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.

*This ensures that you still have some whole beans in the soup. Some of the beans first added break apart, but it adds a nice creamy texture to the soup. 

Removing casings
To remove the casing, I slice down the sausage and squeeze out the meet.

Browning sausage

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Mexican chicken and rice soup – The inspiration for this soup came from a local Mexican restaurant, La Parrilla. I would have never thought to order chicken soup at a Mexican restaurant, but one day I got brave and tried it and am so, so thankful that I did. This is by far one of my favorite soups to order out at a restaurant, so I’m glad my copy-cat recipe turned out pretty spot-on.

Mexican chicken and rice soup

Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 sweet onions, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups shredded chicken (or 2 chicken breasts, boiled and shred)
8 cups chicken stock
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
Kernels from 2 ears of corn
1 4-oz can green chilies
2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown rice)

1.) Saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven until onions are translucent.
2.) Add chicken, chicken stock and then remaining ingredients (except rice).
3.) Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in rice, stir, and simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Top with avocado.

Mexican chicken and rice soup2

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Baked potato soup – This stuff is sinful. It is not for the calorie counter, that’s for sure. Let’s just say that I glanced at the fat per tablespoon of the heavy cream and was a little shocked (and am not telling!). See, while I am a label checker, it is ingredients I check (can I pronounce them all?), not calories or fat, because to me (person of many opinions and no real expertise in the matter), ingredients are much more important than calories or fat‚Ķ ¬†but I digress. I bring this up as a disclaimer, because if you are a calorie-counter, and while making this soup, happen to glance down at our friend Mr. Heavy Whipping Cream and realize what I’m doing to you, I just didn’t want you to be mad at me. Full disclosure over, don’t worry about fat for a meal and enjoy this soup. I promise you won’t be sorry. Oh, and by the way, by far, this was my boys’ ¬†favorite.

Baked potato soup

Baked Potato Soup

1 lb bacon, diced (make it good quality bacon without nitrates)
1 1/2 sweet onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
7 to 8 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1.) Saute bacon in large soup pot or dutch oven until bacon starts to slightly brown. Add onion, carrot and celery, and continue sautéing until onion is translucent.
2.) Add flour to bacon/veggie mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated. Pour in chicken stock and stir well.
3.) Add potatoes and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to lightly boil for about 20 to 25 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender). Using a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes (while in the soup) to create varying texture in the soup. Add heavy whipping cream and stir well. Simmer for about 5 more minutes.
4.) Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese and chives (and extra bacon, if you’d like).

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At the beginning of the simmer stage – potatoes not yet mashed

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Potatoes mashed, about to add the cream

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Finished product!

Sausage and Goat Cheese Stuffed Shells

Figuring out what to make for dinner is tough – especially on week nights. ¬†While I don’t make the same things every week, it is almost a certainty that the week will contain something with chicken, something Mexican and something Italian, and last night was Italian night. I decided to try stuffed shells – something I had never attempted. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated because I thought it would be a pain in the butt to stuff them (like manicotti), but I got a wild hair and decided to try them anyways. Turns out, it was really easy. I found that if you hold the shell in your hand and squeeze it just so, it opens up nicely and you can easily spoon the cheese and the sausage and tomato sauce into the shell. It does take a little time to stuff them all, but truthfully, much simpler than I anticipated. I enjoyed the goat cheese / sausage combo so much in the lasagna I made a couple of weeks ago, that I decided to give it another go.

I tried out some new tomatoes with this recipe because a couple of weeks ago I saw a video on CNN about the 5 things you should never eat, and canned tomatoes was on the list. So I’ve had a little bit of a dilemma, I’ve been trying to make my own sauce from “scratch” (and by scratch I don’t mean boiling fresh tomatoes, but rather using canned tomatoes and adding my own seasoning), but this information has had me second guessing myself. Until, while at Publix this weekend, I noticed that they finally started carrying tomatoes in a box! Hallelujah! No more BPA! So I will have to adjust my recipes for the 26-oz package, but even with that hiccup, I’m thrilled.

Pomi Tomatoes
Disclaimer: I’m not claiming that I’ll never again use canned tomatoes or eat canned tomatoes. So please no calling me a hypocrite if one of my future recipe contains them. However, to the extent that these are available, I will use them.

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Sausage and Goat Cheese Stuffed Shells

24 to 30 jumbo shells, cooked according to box
2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I used Classico)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Sausage and Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (I used mild Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings)
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
26-oz box of tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Cheese Mixture
2 cups ricotta cheese
5 oz goat cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan  over medium-high heat. Add sausage and break apart with spatula. Cook until browned.
2.) Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, wine, basil, oregano and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. ¬†Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (it’s good to time it so it is simmering while your shells are boiling).
3.) In a bowl, mix together ricotta, goat cheese and mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
4.) Take about 1 cup of prepared marinara sauce and spread it on the bottom of a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Placing each shell in your hand, take a spoon (I used one of my dinner spoons) and first scoop the cheese mixture in the shell, using your thumb and the shell to scrape the cheese off the spoon. Next use the same sized spoon to scoop the sausage tomato sauce into the shell. Place in casserole dish and repeat.
5.) Using the remaining marinara sauce, drizzle it over the shells. Sprinkle the shells with mozzarella cheese and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Stuffed shells sausage RIcotta goat cheese mixture Stuffed Shells 1 Stuffed Shells 2 Stuffed Shells 3

Simple Sausage Marinara

This dish is a simple 30-minute homemade marinara that is a go-to for a weeknight meal. ¬†Both of my boys love Italian sausage, so I’ve been using it in place of beef in a lot of my Italian dishes. ¬†I used Publix’s Greenwise Italian Chicken Sausage and it was really good. ¬†This dinner was a success – ¬†I didn’t have to spend the whole evening in the kitchen and the boys cleaned their plates. The leftovers were great too.

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Simple Sausage Marinara

1 lb Italian sausage (I used chicken sausage)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomato
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1.) Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until onions and mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.
2.) Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add parsley and simmer for 5 minutes longer.  Serve over pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

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Sausage and Peppers Spaghetti

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes! ¬†It’s not your typical spaghetti – it’s full of fresh veggies, made with sausage and I like mine with angel hair. ¬†This recipe makes a pretty large pot; plenty to feed a family and have leftovers too (I love leftovers!). ¬†It’s pretty easy to make and can be done in around 30 to 40 minutes. ¬†Me and the boys had this for dinner tonight, and after Brogan was done, he asked, “Can we have this again tomorrow?” ¬†Dinner win!

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Sausage and Peppers Spaghetti

1 lb angel hair pasta
1 lb Italian sausage (I use Publix Greenwise Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Sausage)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 bell peppers, cut into strips (I use three different colors)
1 red onion, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5-oz cans of Italian style diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)

1.) Cook pasta according to package, set aside.
2.) Remove sausage from links and brown in a large saute pan or dutch oven, breaking apart with spatula as it cooks.  Remove cooked sausage from pot and set aside.
3.) In the same pot sausage was cooked, add olive oil and then sauté peppers, onions and garlic. Cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, basil and parsley. Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add sausage to veggies, mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
4.) Add cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese to sauce, mix well (tongs work well here). Serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

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