Monday, January 5, 2015

Joey's Easy Sausage and Spinach Soup

 I was recently foraging through the fridge, looking for something I might throw into a pot of soup. I started with a few aromatics, then added a few main ingredients and some broth, then a few herbs and seasonings, and before I knew it I had a fabulous pot of delicious and hearty soup, simmering away on the stove. Then I thought, "wait, what did I just do????  I need to write this down!!!!" You'd think I'd know by now to write it down as I go, right?
 Now I don't even have to write it down. I've made it so many times, I know it by heart. It's been my go to recipe for several reasons. Besides being delicious and satisfying, it doesn't cost much to make, it goes really far, and on top of that it's very low in carbs, which is how I'm rolling these days. I sort of used my Feel Better All Over Tomato Soup as a starting point, and went from there. I served it to a few friends not too long ago.... Nathan and Wyatt, in particular, were immediate fans. My brother Chris loved it too! So make this the next time it snows, or if someone close to you is feeling a little under the weather. I betcha it'll warm you right up and make them feel better in no time.
Hope you like it!

a few glugs of olive oil
3 or 4 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs Italian Sweet sausage, removed from casings
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1 tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 29oz can crushed tomatoes
1 48oz can chicken broth
1 10oz package frozen chopped spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, saute the celery and onions in olive oil until they begin to soften. Add garlic. Saute for a few minutes longer. After removing the sausage from the casings, add it to the pot by breaking off small chunks and throwing them into the pot. Cook, stirring often, until the sausage is brown. Add the remaining ingredients. Give it a good stir. Reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered for at least 30 minutes. I like to go a little longer, even an hour or more. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

You can use bulk sausage instead of removing it from the casings, but I tried it both ways, and the bulk sausage wound up breaking down into much smaller pieces. I wanted it to be much chunkier, so I've decided that removing it from the casings was a better way to that end.
You don't even have to defrost the box of spinach. Just take it out of the box, and throw the frozen brick right into the pot. It will melt soon enough.
To grind up the fennel seeds, I used a mortar and pestle, but a spice grinder works equally as well.
If you'd like to toast your fennel seeds before adding to the soup, just throw them into a small dry pan over medium heat and toast them for a few minutes. As soon as you can smell them, they're done and ready to be ground. Easy!
If you don't have any fennel seeds, you can also use caraway seeds, star Anise, or even use a little splash of Anisette liqueur. Or just leave it out! The fennel in the sausage will still flavor the soup!
Come to think of it, you could even chop up a fresh fennel bulb and saute it with the celery and onions... I bet that would do the job as well. Anything to carry over the the flavor of the fennel in the sausage will do nicely!

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