Autumn and winter are my favorite seasons, in part because of one word.
I adore soup. A few simple ingredients can be turned into something warm and nourishing and comforting on those dark, cold evenings. The cooking process is muss-free — depending on the recipe, you might have to saute an item or two (onions, meat) before tossing in the rest of the ingredients, adding water and settling back to bask in the scent. 30 minutes, maybe a bit longer and you have a wonderful meal served with a nice crusty bread.
Our weather in Philadelphia has been all over the map — 40 one day, 20 the next and 60 over the weekend. Tonight, after hearing about snow flurries in the forecast, I decided, spur of the moment, that I wanted some soup. Checked out the pantry, and the fridge, and voila!
Recipe number one in Eating Out the Pantry: Sausage and potato soup.
I bought this wonderful sausage mix from Whole Foods around the holidays — pork-base with basil and garlic. Ingredibly fragrant — even through the freezer bag, you could catch hints of the garlic. I was going to use it as the base for a bean soup, but the sausage seemed like it could carry a recipe on its own.
And it did. I had to remind myself of my eating healthy resolution to keep from pouring out a second bowl.
Sausage and potato soup:
1 & 1/4 pounds pork sausage (garlic and herb)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced thin
4 cups chicken broth
1-2 cups water
8 small potatoes, washed, quartered and sliced (peeled if you want)
2-3 peppercorns, crushed on a teaspoon
Cook the sausage over a low heat (to prevent burning); drain off any excess renderings from the pot. Add onion and carrots, saute for a couple of minutes until the onions are translucent. Pour in the broth and 1 cup of water, lower heat to simmer and then add the potatoes.
When the potatoes are half-cooked, toss in the peppercorns and continue simmering until the potatoes are done to your desired state of mushiness (some people like the potatoes in their soup to be falling apart; I prefer them more solid). Since potatoes suck up moisture (broth and water), you may need to add another 1/2 cup or so if you want your soup to have enough broth. Or you could let the mixture alone and have a stew!
If you had to substitute for the sausage, you could probably use a regular pork sausage, then add in at least 4 minced large cloves of garlic, and probably 2-3 tablespoons of basil.
No need to add salt; the sausage had enough. Nicely spicy. Use a good crusty French or Italian bread to soak up the broth from the bowl.