Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Recipe: Zuppa verde con la salsiccia (Green Soup with Sausage)

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup. – Ludwig van Beethoven

Tons of basil...how much better can it get?
How do you cook sausage? There’s a million ways to serve it. One of my favourites is sausage and peppers with tomato sauce, either on pasta or atop toasted Italian bread. It’s also great broken up and aded to pasta sauce. 

A third way is to just fry the links and serve on a bun with mustard or other favourite toppings. This “zuppa verde” recipe is another favourite of mine. Or should I say a new favourite of mine as it is as newly minted as a spring lamb (sorry for the lamb/mint pun…).

The soffritto. Important aromatics to build the soup's flavour.
I made a vegetarian Genovese minestrone last year and posted the recipe (here). It was excellent. It was composed of lots of different vegetables and used pesto for “seasoning.” I had some guests that night with some specific dietary requirements so had to be creative. It was a massive hit.

So why not take that same pesto technique and make a sausage soup? Well I did, and here it is.

I arrived at this recipe on the way to the grocery store. It has two very Italian flavouring agents: soffritto and pesto.  Soffritto is an age-old technique in Italian cooking. It is a sauté of a very specific list of “aromatic” vegetables. 

Soffritto is also common in the cuisine of many other cultures. In Spain it is sofrito and in France mirepoix. In each country the vegetable combination is slightly different. This very easy technique of lightly browning vegetables is a great way to introduce their flavour and nutrients to dishes.

The broth for this soup is thin. If you wish you could add 1/2 cup of very well mashed leftover potato (no lumps), or perhaps—God forbid—1/4 cup of instant potato flakes to give it a little more body. I actually really like instant potato flakes. Just think of them as something other than potato and you're fine.

Be careful with the salt. Depending on your pesto and chicken stock you may very well have enough salt to satisfy your taste already.

If you’re really into it, you could make your own homemade pesto. It's very easy. There's a great recipe for pesto here. It's from food.com, a wonderful resource for any cook. Go and poke around. Some of my recipes are even posted there. But just a few...

The soffritto, stock, sausage and orzo cook together.
Zuppa verde con la salsiccia (Green Soup with Sausage)
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 30 min  |  Serves 4
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 medium red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1 cup pesto
salt and pepper to taste
fresh grated parmesan

Place the whole sausages and oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven. Add about 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil. Let the sausage cook until the water is absorbed, turning once. The sausage will lightly brown after the water evaporates. Remove and set aside.

Stir in the pesto at the last minute, just before serving.
Turn the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, carrot and pepper. Sauté the vegetables until well wilted and slightly browned. This is your soffritto, flavour base number one.

Once cool enough to handle, slice the sausage lengthways and chop into “manageable to eat” pieces. Add back to the pot. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Once the broth has come to a boil stir in the orzo and let cook for the recommended time. This is usually 8 minutes, but check you package!

After the pasta has cooked, turn the heat to medium and add the pesto (flavour base number two). Stir to combine, warm through and remove from the heat. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and more pepper.


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  1. Just made this soup...delicious!

  2. Thank you C! Glad you liked it. Some of the other recipes are OK too...