Please do not be alarmed that the word “sausage” is in the title of this soup. Honestly when trying to name this mish mash of a soup that I made up last week, I really did not want to include sausage in the title. There’s something about the words “sausage soup” that make me picture a gigantic bread loaf hollowed out and filled with baked potato, cheese and cheddar soup with carmelized kielbasa or something in it. Something that adds 7 pounds to my ass if I even look at it sideways, and something that if you eat the only words to describe your condition afterwards are “completely” and “destroyed.” The concept of sausage soup also reminds me of a certain menu item that would appear periodically at the unnamed American bar & grill where I used to sling food. That menu item was BLT soup and yes, it was just as disgusting as you are imagining right now. I mean BLTs: good; soup: good. BLT soup: NOT GOOD. Any soup with flecks of floating lettuce in it is just not okay with me. And if it’s okay with you I’d like you to keep that to yourself because I really like you and I don’t want that to change. It made me wonder how the cook who’s brainchild this recipe was could take two seemingly wonderful food items and by combining them together create something almost inherently evil. One day when he was preparing this culinary abomination he asked “Jess, you’re a vegetarian right?” to which I pishawed him and said “no” and he was like, “oh, well here, I want you to try the soup of the day.” “What is it?” “BLT soup” “Oh, um, honestly, I don’t really feel well right now and I just don’t think I can eat anything with bacon in it. Thanks though. It sounds so good.” I lied. I really didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I was not about to make smiley faces any yummy noises as I slurped down a nappy dish of the Worst Soup Ever Made by
But sincerely though, even though I am not happy with the title of this soup per se, I don’t believe it would have come out quite as good if I had skipped the sausage. A nice browned meat can add a lot to the flavor of a soup, even bacon, just don’t combine it with wilted, wet lettuce and don’t let me think that maybe you may have included mayonnaise as one of your soup ingredients (ugh! I just got the chills when I typed that!!). Wow Jess, you are really doing a spectacular job of working up appetites over here. But honestly, I swear MY soup is good, and there’s no lettuce in it. And there never will be any lettuce in any soup that comes out of the Porky Test Kitchens. Lettuce has a place: in salads and on tacos, let’s keep it that way. So anyways though, focusing our attention back to the soup:
Two sweet Italian or fennel sausages*
One bag baby pearl onions**
Two cloves garlic, minced
Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
Splash of sherry vinegar
2 russet potatoes, diced
Chicken broth or stock, to cover
* The sausages I used in this soup were leftover from a package of Dom’s sausages from Dom’s Sausage Company in Malden. This place is amazing. Their meats are great and their prices are reasonable. My friend Michelle drives up there to stock up every few weeks and on her last visit she gifted me with some of these sweet, fennel sausages. I’m normally a hot sausage girl myself (hehehe- sorry) but these changed my mind. Ah-mazing.
**I purchased myself a satchel of the most adorable baby onion blend from where else? Trader Joes. They were a blend of baby purple, white and yellow onions and they were so great, because not only were they so cute, their flavor was wonderful. You could likewise use regular diced onions or the normal baby pearls, or even cipollini.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat, add your bag of onions and blanch them for a few minutes (I left mine in approx. 3). Drain onions and let cool a bit. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula until well browned. Peel onions from their skins and add to pot. The easiest way to do this I found was to nip the end off with a pairing knife and then squeeze the little suckers out of their skins. Be fair warned that some of these onions will fly across your kitchen. It’s sort of hilarious. Sauté the sausage and onions together for a bit, add the garlic, a bit of salt, pepper and some crushed red pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir everything together well. Dash in some of the sherry vinegar and let the vinegar cook off. This only takes a moment, really.
Add your potatoes and chicken stock to cover. Turn the heat up to a boil. Let boil until potatoes are tender and cooked through. Once the potatoes are tender you can serve or turn down and let simmer until you’re ready to eat. Top with crunched up crackers or pita chips and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Oh by the way, I also served this to myself with a grilled cheddar, avocado and bacon sandwich. Good fat meets bad fat in a battle of the fats. Clearly in this battle, my tastebuds win.