With the rain beating down on my windows and the end of a long, arduous week behind me, I turned to my culinary hub for therapy. Still recovering from a bad cold and feeling downtrodden for veering so off track from my half marathon training program, my resolve to turn to my granite counters and stainless steel appliances for a little gastronomic healing proved the right choice. My kitchen now smells like heaven—a little roasted garlic lingering in the air; an aromatic and spicy soup simmering on the stove; and the ideal fragrance of butter and parsley joining together in sautéed bliss.
For today's therapy I chopped a few veggies, threw a few garlic bulbs in the oven, sliced some bread, and prepared to eat. With this wet, stormy weather I can't help but to continue to create scrumptious, bubbling soups (pretty soon I'll have enough left-overs in the freezer to feed an army). This recipe was inspired by my grandmother Mary, who made something similar for us some time ago. I put my own spin on it. Perfect for a rainy day.
SLO Sausage & Tortellini Soup
With Garlic Bread
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
32 oz. vegetable stock
5 links Italian sausage (I used spicy)
3 cups of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 tablespoon oregano
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 - 8 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive)
1 small loaf Ciabatta bread, sliced
8 oz. of your favorite tortellini
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F. Slice the tops off the ends of the garlic bulbs and place on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with oil, salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Wrap in foil and bake for 45 - 60 minutes. The garlic should be just tender when pierced with a fork. Don't overdo it or you risk bitter garlic. When garlic is done, cool, and squeeze meat from the skins. Roughly chop and set aside.
When garlic is almost done turning into divine mush in the oven, chop onions, shallots and carrots. Heat large soup pot on medium heat, sprizzle with oil, salt & pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add veggies and sautée until lucid. Next comes the sausage (I squeeze it from the casings and use a wooden spoon to break it up into little pieces in the pan) and half of the chopped roasted garlic. Stir frequently for about 10 minutes before adding broth, tomatoes, and bay leaves (make sure to remove leaves before serving soup). Cover with a tight lid, reduce heat to a simmer, and let it rip for about an hour, adjusting for seasonings every now and then.
When the hour is up, turn oven back on to 350°F. Place sliced bread on racks and lightly toast (watch carefully so they don't burn). Bring up the heat on the soup and add tortellini and 2 cups of parsley when broth comes to a boil. Cover with lid for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat small pan with butter, a bit of salt & pepper, remaining roasted garlic, and 1 cup parsley. Sautée vigorously to prevent butter from scorching. Wilt parsley (takes about 3 - 4 minutes). Remove bread from oven—plate—and pile with garlic and parsley medley. When tortellini is finished, invite over three of your closest friends, ladle hearty soup in bowls, pour a glass of spicy Zinfandel, and prepare to feast on a rainy day (or any day for that matter).
I picked up a bottle of very affordable local San Luis Obispo County zin on sale (less than ten dollars) at the grocery store: Peachy Canyon's 2006 Incredible Red, Paso Robles Zinfandel. With my lingering cold, I couldn't quite distinguish the nose, but the light berry hue, soft tannins and slightly jammy, spiced, berry and plum untertones left a mildly peppery finish and paired well with this fiesty, hearty soup. The wine was not a bad choice for the price and its finish left me with a toasty—yet welcome cooling effect—after slurping the hot soup.
I feel up to starting a new week already.
The sun is just beginning to push the clouds aside.