Chicago has entered into that bittersweet period each fall where it’s just cold enough to break out a sweater or a soup pot, but not so cold that my herb garden gives up the ghost.
I have had to to extract fallen leaves as I go, but I’ve been making and freezing chicken stock with thyme, oregano and rosemary and making a variety of soups of an evening.
Last night was an easy and impromptu soup, but one worth repeating. Start with a gallon of homemade chicken stock. (I made mine by covering two legs and a thigh with cold water, chucking in two half onions I found in the fridge, a carrot cut into medallions I later fished out and added to the finished soup, two bay leaves, three stalks of chunked up celery, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, simmer two hours and strain everything out. In addition to the carrots, I took the chicken meat, minus the skin and bones, and chopped that up for the soup as well.)
For this soup, I roasted a pound of Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in fourths (larger ones) or half (smaller ones.) Put in a baking dish drizzled with olive oil and mince up a few pieces of slab/streaky bacon, salt and pepper. About 25 minutes in a 375 oven should get them nice and caramelized brown with a few crispy leaves, while rendering the bacon. If it does not, your sprouts are bigger and cook them longer. You can move the sprouts around once during cooking if you want to…I didn’t and they turned out great.
Next, take a pound of turkey Italian sausages (in casings is easiest because you can use them to help you form the meatballs) and squeeze out equal sized pieces (up to you, I went for ping pong ball sized) into a hot wok or skillet coated in olive oil. (like 2 TB or 3 TB if a bigger pan) Brown them lightly on all sides. Turkey Italian sausage is great for soups because it’s leaner, so it won’t cause an oil slick in your pot, and you don’t have to mix anything into it to make easy meatballs. Don’t cook the meatballs all the way through when browning them – they’ll cook more in the soup and, despite floating in chicken stock, they will dry out.
Next, I threw into the meatball pan three cloves of hand chopped garlic, half a diced yellow onion and a diced small green pepper/capsicum. You don’t want to brown the garlic, just give it a minute or two before deglazing everything with your chicken stock. Pour a couple cups of stock and make sure you scrape up all the good brown bits off the bottom. Now put everything you want into the soup in with the stock. For me that was: the gallon of stock, two cans of white beans, drained and rinsed of their liquid, the meatballs, the recovered carrot coins and chicken meat. I also put about a third of the roasted Brussels sprouts into the soup.
The rest of the sprouts I used for garnish as we served the soup, along with some torn fresh basil from my herb garden, and crushed red mexican chiles called piquin peppers for a little smoky heat.
What kind of soup are you making?