Cooking 101 - Italian Country Soup

…or my version of Zuppa Toscana

Call me a nerd, but I love food and I love learning about the originations of the classic dishes we eat today.  (seriously, though, what is nerdy about food?!  It's anything but nerdy…I guess I'm not a nerd after all...)  Some fun facts I found:

Soup comes from the word "sop", in which you soak a piece of bread in broth or thick stew.  (sounds squishy)

The existence of soup dates back to about 20,000 B.C.  (truly an ancient food)

The earliest restaurant, meaning "restorning", {I love that.} started out in the 1600's as street vendors in France sold inexpensive, highly concentrated soup that served as a remedy for exhaustion.

Cool, huh?!  Soup has been, and always will be, one of mankind's finest comfort foods.

This particular soup must have been close to what might have been a staple for Italian, and even many other European countries.  These ingredients were/are basic staples in an Italian home.  This dish is basic, versatile, adaptable, and so very good!  It's easy to see how this could be considered a "restorative" meal.

Italian Country Soup

2 qts. (8 c.) chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb. Italian sausage (or any ground sausage works fine)
1 large 26 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 onion, fine diced
3 garlic cloves, fine minced
6 c. diced red potatoes (I dice them smallish for my kids)
½ c. white wine  (can be omitted)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 t. Italian seasoning
½ t. fresh ground black pepper
1 large, or 2 small zucchinis, diced
1-2 c. shredded & chopped kale, spinach, or both
½ c. heavy cream or half & half
1 T. olive oil

In a large stockpot, or your crockpot, add broth and tomatoes, and cook on low.

In a skillet, add olive oil and heat to medium.  Add onion and garlic, cook until beginning to soften.  Add ground sausage and cook until barely enough pink is left.  Add white wine and allow to simmer about 1 minute. Pour into stockpot.  

Add potatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt; cover and simmer on low for about 1 hour.  

Then, add the zucchini, cover and cook another 15 minutes.  You don't want the zucchini to be mushy, yet not crunchy, either.  Then, add the chopped kale or spinach (or both).  Cover and let the greens wilt for a few minutes.  Add heavy cream or half & half; season with salt & pepper.

Serve with your favorite rustic crusty bread, Parmesean cheese, and enjoy this ancient, restorative, delicious meal!  

I  always make my BFF Kadie's No-Fail French Bread to go with all of our soups - it's seriously delicious!! {I love you, Kadie…xoxoxo}  And it doesn't hurt that I make a double-batch & freeze it for later, take it over to a neighbor, or make Strawberry Stuffed French Toast. {GASP!} (and I promise to re-photograph those French toast pictures…OY!…sorry you had to see that...)
 It's really a win-win when you make this bread.

 You just can't go wrong here!

Have a Happy Day!


Busy, Happy, and did I mention busy?!

Kids, school, homework, music lessons, orthodontist appointments, drama rehersals, music practice, more homework, cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, did I mention cleaning?, school parties, two birthdays, son broke a wrist, husband tore his knee to shreds, family nurse, pain management, chauffeur, exercise, and not enough sleep.  

Feeling SO blessed and so very happy!  :)

I know I could feel overwhelmed, this winter has been super eventful, but I just feel blessed.  I know someday that the chaos will slow down as the house gradually empties, so I try to enjoy and embrace all of the craziness.  Sometimes I shut myself in my room and take a breather, sometimes I take the time to read a good book.  I'm grateful for the help, seen and unseen, that I have been given.  

In the meantine….my sweet daughter is learning the art of embroidery.  {gasp!!!}  
She's so amazing and will make beautiful things of her own!!  I love nothing more than passing down these rare arts - our young girls need to learn hand sewing, crochet, knitting, and such.  We need to keep these beautiful traditions alive!

Baby Girl turned 4.  {sniff……hold me……}
Like every little girl all over the world, she's obsessed with Frozen, particularly Elsa.  She loves the frozeny-type and I think it's because she was born in the middle of winter in Michigan!!  haha.  She also likes characters with white-blonde hair and blue eyes like her.  :)  
Remember last year's Periwinkle birthday?  

Puh-recious.  Goodness, I love this crazy, fun, adorable little girl!
My heart is breaking because she is growing way too fast - faster than most kids, I think.

And….just because it was so stunning to me the other day….every evening, the sunlight comes through my living room window, creating a drippy, sunny glow.  I lived in the gray darkness for so long that it's still a novelty to have buttery-golden sunshine flood my home. It's something I look forward to every day!!  I am hoping that I never grow tired of it.  

Whelp…kids coming home soon, so I better get some more chores done!!  
Have a happy day, everyone!  I hope to post some fun projects soon!!!