Soups are one of my favorite foods throughout the year! With the right ingredients, you can have the perfect one-pot meal with protein, vegetables, and carbs. With the Northeast Fall / Winter already hitting NYC hard this year with Sandy and Nor’easter, it has left many of my fellow New Yorkers cold & hungry.
During the aftermath of Sandy, without transit, I struggled to find a way to help our friends in Brooklyn / downtown – I especially wanted to contribute the way I know best, by cooking and feeding! Kid you not, soon after I arrived at my Upper West Side building I saw a flyer encouraging us “Uptown folks” to share a meal with our downtown neighbors at no cost!
The organization is MealKu – The Home Made Cooperative. I quickly signed up, posted my “signature” winter “Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup”, received a confirmation email that it was “ordered” and got a call for next day pick-up. They provided me with the containers needed (4 of these nifty bags were more than enough for a 12 person soup – wow!!!) and delivered to Red Hook Initiative. Easy peasy – THANK YOU MEALKU!
Here’s the original recipe from Epicurious. This soup is incredibly flexible – I have made it with chicken stock, without green pepper, no dried herbs or parmesan cheese (for those who are lactose intolerant) and it is still fantastic! Below are my modifications – 6 servings. I would HIGHLY recommend using a mandolin slicer – here’s the one I use
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage casings removed
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 cups beef stock + 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (about 3/4 pound OR to save time, you can also buy canned chopped tomatoes)
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 large zucchini, sliced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 medium-sized green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (don’t skip this! adds a wonderful layer of complexity and richness)
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 8 to 10 ounces purchased frozen cheese tortellini (I have also used mushroom ravioli, yum!)
- Roughly separate the sausage in chunks, sauté the Italian sausage in heavy Dutch oven (with a drizzle of olive oil) over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling with back of spoon, about 10 minutes.
- Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Add onion and garlic to Dutch oven and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Return sausage to Dutch oven. Add stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, wine, basil.
- Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook the amount of tortellini or pasta you would eat in a separate pot. Ladle soup into bowls. Add cooked tortellini and serve!
This soup can be prepared 2 days ahead (tastes better next day anyway), freezes and warms up fantastically for those single cooks out there.
What is your favorite winter soup?