February 15, 2011


Posted in Cooking at 11:37 AM by Robin

Andrew likes to make fun of me, but I find that my eating preferences are very much season oriented. Despite the fact that ice cream is my favorite dessert of all (well, up there with creme brulee, anyway), I really have very little inclination to eat it in the middle of winter, unless it is accompanied by a nice warm pie or a brownie and hot fudge. I also tend to avoid salads in the winter. I really have to talk myself into chomping down on cold crispy vegetables when there’s six inches of snow outside my window. Doesn’t that image just make you shiver a little? Brrrr!

So, my problem this time of year is finding a way to get all my veggies in each day. I buy produce and it will often go bad before I can convince myself to chop it up and toss it with ranch dressing. Remember, those of you still holding onto an anti-low-carb bias, a good low-carb diet does not just consist of steak and bacon and eggs every day. You gotta get those veggies in! They fill you up, they give you fiber and vitamins, and most importantly, they give your meal the flavor and texture that satisfies your tastebuds. So, if you fall into the same sort of winter-time produce avoidance trap, my suggestion is simple: soup.

If your only acquaintance with soup is the stuff that comes out of a can, you have not yet lived, my friend. I love me some soup in the winter! In fact, my family complains sometimes because there have been times when I will make soup three or four nights a week! And then we end up with a bunch of soup leftovers, which nobody but me ever eats, and then we have to have a soup smorgasborg (sp?) night to get rid of it all. Once you have made soup from scratch, you will never go back.

Here is the recipe I just stumbled upon yesterday from Allrecipes.com. It is AWESOME! Andrew said that it tasted just like the kind you get at Olive Garden. Flavorful, hearty, nutritious, and even three out of four kids ate most or all of their serving! (That last one, it doesn’t matter what you give her, she won’t eat it)

Italian Sausage Soup

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (Italian sausage comes in sweet or hot varieties. I used the sweet, which really isn’t sweet, but it’s still got a good spicy flavor to it without being overbearingly hot.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (14 ounce) cans beef broth (or one big carton)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cubed carrots
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can great Northern beans, undrained (about 1 1/2 cups if you cook them out of the bag)
  • 2 small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat, then add sausage and garlic. You can usually find ground italian sausage in the meat area near the ground beef, but if not, look over by the hot dogs. If you find it in rolled sausage form, that’s fine. Just cut the sausages in half and squeeze the insides out of the casings into your pan. I used Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausages last night. Stir occasionally until sausage is browned.
  2. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt at first because the sausage and the broth are both already pretty salty. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer  for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in beans with liquid, if canned, and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
  4. Run frozen spaghetti under warm water to thaw it out. You could just add it frozen, but it would cool the whole pot down and take longer to heat it all back up. Add the spinach to the pot and simmer an additional five minutes. You can also use fresh chopped spinach, just wash it thoroughly and toss it into the hot pot with the heat off for five minutes. I also added a handful of fresh chopped parsley just because I had it on hand. Serve in large bowls!

This soup is so warm and cozy and filling, you might even be able to convince yourself to serve a salad on the side! Good eating!