During the winter months, as life gets busier with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and I am wont to run around with my family spontaneously looking at holiday lights but still needing desperately to meet deadlines, I find something has to be trimmed down in the ol’ sche-duly. The only place left to make cuts in such a tightly packed schedule seems to be in the making and eating of food. But since we are not a fast food family and we really hate boring food (my boys are foodies too!) I turn to other kinds of easy to please meals. One of which is soup, like this Tuscan Two-Day Christmas soup.
Soup: Winter’s Treat
Hearty, belly warming and oh-so-satisfying — soup is one of those winter pleasures, like hot cocoa. When you come in out of the cold and are served a bowl of warm pure love, steam still rising — you know mama cares.
I have a lot of soups in my repertoire, more than I’ve ever had ever before for in my life. Not just because they pile up exponentially in my back catalog but because in the first winter of cohabiting with my husband, he said to me, after eating my homemade BPP (bread, sweet peas and pancetta) soup, “Let’s see if we can have a different soup each week of the winter. Do you know that many soups?” He then proceeded to hand me a piece of paper and a pencil and asked me to write down “All the kinds of soup you can make,” and then added, “How many are there?”
How Many Soups Can YOU Make?
I spent the next 15 minutes or so explaining, to my then-boyfriend-now-hubby’s astonishment, that there are infinite numbers of soups (as it is essentially a marrying of flavors and ingredients in liquid, served hot or cold) and that I could make him whatever he liked. We could even invent a few of our own. I explained that it might be easier to just list categories of soups (stews, consomme, bisques, chilled soups, chowders, etc.) and then decide what flavors and categories he wished to explore. This, of course, was mind blowing for him and I have been introducing him to new soups and recipes ever since.
We love standard staples like chicken noodle, potato cheese, butternut squash, curried carrot-ginger-apple (for which I won an award), chicken tortilla and 13 bean stew, but I also like to veer into more adventurous territory with creamy roasted chestnut, shredded pork ramen, red wine lentil stew with sausage, chicken and lime Phở, chilled cilantro-lime cucumber soup with shrimp, and pork or chicken Posole.
All are favorites and all leave my family happily slurping up leftovers. This is because most soups, unlike many other dishes, taste even better the next day. And some, like this Tuscan Two-Day Christmas soup, do not come into their full flavor until the second day. Which means, the first day’s bowls are merely perfunctory, as we all wait for that beloved second day serving.
Two Day Soup
This truly is a two-day soup making process — not to assemble it. To assemble the dish, is less than an hour but to get the best flavor, you must wait a day. On the first day, the soup’s flavors are newly born and “as weak as a baby,” as my husband would say — but still REALLY tasty. And for many folks, tasty enough to skip the second step. But for us, it’s that magic second day when this soup really blossoms, becoming nicely thickened with yesterday’s broken down potatoes and the flavors richly concentrated, mingling and melding from swimming together for longer. You can skip eating a bowl on day one (we can never resist) and wait for perfection or you can enjoy the process, tasting the soup it as it matures.
On day two, fresh ingredients are added (more of the same) to ensure you have hearty chunks and well as the silty rich flavor of those that have broken down from the day before. The resultant aroma and taste is pure gold and will leave you unconsciously mmm-ing and ah-ing your way through the bowl.
It’s a fav of ours and because we only make it in winter and it’s colored in hues of red, green and white, my son thinks it’s a Christmas soup and so we christened it, Tuscan Two-Day Christmas Soup.
We serve it with a yeasty Gluten-free baguette from Portland area bakery, New Cascadia Traditional, served with Kerrygold butter or a smear of goat’s chevre, or sometimes with my own warm homemade gluten-free gruyere popovers.
Tuscan Two-Day Christmas Soup Recipe
- 1 lb sliced skin-on red potatoes
- 1 bunch red kale
- 5 links (or approximately 1 lb) sweet Italian sausage
- 6 pieces of bacon, fried crisp
- 1 whole diced sweet red pepper
- 14 oz coconut cream (coconut water separated out) you may use other cream, if you prefer
- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 32 oz aseptic container (or 4 cups) organic chicken broth
- 9 cups water
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
Grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil
(Serves the 3 of us heartily, for 4 meals)
DAY 1 DIRECTIONS:
- Slice red potatoes with a mandolin or in a food processor into thin discs, like the kind you would use in au gratin potatoes
- Bring broth and water to boil, adding potatoes and reducing heat to med for a slow boil
- Dice the onion and garlic and set aside
- Cook the bacon until crisp and set aside, saving the bacon grease
- Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, adding the sausage to the pan (if links, squeeze the sausage from its casing and crumble into the pan) and cooking until browned and crumbled.
- While sausage is cooking, cut or shred cooked bacon into small pieces and add to the sausage and onion mixture once browned
- Clean, devein and cut the kale into bite size chunks or ribbons, set aside
- Dice red pepper, set aside
- Skim the foam from the top of the pot of potatoes
- Then, once all prep is done and sausage has browned. Add the sausage, bacon, onion and garlic mixture to the pot of slow boiling potatoes and let cook for 10-15 minutes (depending on how long it took you to brown sausage, potatoes should cook for no longer than 25-30 minutes.)
- Add coconut cream, stirring slowly and gingerly, so as not to break up too many of the potatoes
- Then kale and red pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes, adding seasonings to taste
Serve the first day’s brothy bowl, in anticipation of tomorrow’s flavors to come. Then refrigerate overnight.
DAY 2 DIRECTIONS:
By now your soup has been resting 12 hours or more and the flavors have intensified with the rich sweet flavors of italian sausage, oregano, onion, garlic and bacon and begun to thicken with the starch of broken down potatoes.
Bring the soup just to a boil, stirring to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan and to break down any still solidified potatoes into smaller chunks and silty starch. Add then a handful or two of fresh kale, fresh raw potato slices (only 3 to 4 medium red potatoes this time) and 3 more pieces of freshly crisped bacon, shredded to the mix, cooking at a slow boil, until the potato slices are softened (10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness). Add additional broth, if your soup liquid has become too thick or the liquid has evaporated too much. The soup is done when your potatoes are softened enough for a spoon pressing it against the side of the pain, breaks through with ease.
Dish up in heaping mounds with freshly grated parm and a drizzle of olive oil and serve with your favorite bread.