Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

I think once you make this soup, you will understand why it is in my constant recipe rotation. It is so simple to make and the ingredients are really easy to keep on hand. I pretty much always have two jars of roasted red peppers and two containers of mini gnocchi in my pantry, just so I can always make this soup when the mood strikes. This is a little heavier on the calories if you are watching what you eat, its about 300 calories for each 1 cup portion and I usually portion it out in 1.5 cup containers. But it is worth every minute that you spent on the treadmill. It is spicy, creamy, and comforting. And it keeps extremely well in the fridge. I honestly could not attest to its stability in the freezer because this soup gets eaten up within a few days, between my husband and I.

 

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I have been so inspired by an Italian restaurant in Raleigh called Gravy. If you live in the area, you must go. Perfect Italian food, everything I ate there was insanely good. I was inspired by the gnocchi and kale combination I had there. I wanted to make soup and I wanted it to be kind of healthy so I went with hot Italian chicken sausage from Whole foods. It is really, really good! I have also made this with regular hot Italian sausage and of course it is excellent. If you can find mini gnocchi, they are kind of perfect for soup, and super cute. If you are being very healthy, you could also substitute the gnocchi for great northern beans. Homemade chicken stock really punches the flavors in this soup a punch, but I have used store-bought stock many times. The milk you use in this soup is really up to you, you can use all half and half or all 2%. I like it to be a little creamier, so I use the combo. Low fat half and half or heavy cream are also alternatives if that is all that is in the fridge.

 

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Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

4 pieces bacon, diced
1 lb hot Italian chicken sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
4 cups chicken stock http://bubblykitchen.com/chicken-stock/
1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped, hard stems removed
1 lb mini potato gnocchi (regular size works too)
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup 2% milk

In a dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon over medium heat. Cook until the fat is rendered and bacon is slightly brown, ~7 minutes. Add the hot italian turkey sausage and the onion. Saute until cooked through, ~10 minutes. Drain as much of the fat as you can (or leave it if you don’t care). Add the garlic cloves and saute for 1 minute.

Stir in the diced roasted red peppers and the chicken stock. Bring this to a simmer, reduce heat to maintain. Add the kale and the gnocchi, stir once with wooden spoon to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, until the gnocchi are tender. Mix in the half and half.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen Original Recipe

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale

So to begin the parade of winter soups that are keeping me warm… Lentil soup. The real reason I made this soup was to use up this huge container of Power Greens that I purchased from Costco. Forgot to check the expiration date, oops, and they were nearing their time. So I cooked them into this soup and they were fabulous! (I also cooked them with bacon, garlic, and chili pepper, recipe coming soon.) So thank you Power Greens and Costco for helping me create new recipes.

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Eating healthy is so challenging when you work a completely random schedule and you aren’t diligent with expiration dates. But it is doable. The first step is planning out meals. Soups make it so easy to have a healthy lunch. You can make this huge pot of soup, freeze a couple portions, and eat it for lunch two more days. When I was portioning my soup, I actually left out the greens from what I was planning to freeze.

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Chicken Stock

Well I have no excuses for the lack of posts lately. The winter in NC just dragged on, I have worked way too many shifts in the ED, and I have not felt motivated in the kitchen. But I finally got a vacation!! My husband and I went to Asheville and it was glorious. Such a foodie town that provided so much inspiration. Not to mention, endless wonderful beers   and ciders. And insanely good chocolate that goes from bean to bar in the coolest little shop. But one of the most amazing things about Asheville is the locally sourced and natural foods. They have everything from the most amazing bakeries to whole animal butcher shops. It seems like the people of this city have really demanded a relationship with their food and they are reaping all of the rewards.
We were very inspired by our trip and have actually started brewing cider at home. My first 3 gallon cider project is bubbling up with fermentation as I write this post. (I will keep you all posted on the results.) This reminded me that I have been doing a different kind of home brewing for a long time now – homemade chicken stock. And you have to try it! It will change your life. Homemade chicken stock makes a huge difference in your recipes.

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You can really use any chicken parts. Below you will find the recipe with all purchased ingredients. But I recommend you start saving and freezing all your leftover chicken bones and carcasses. These contain valuable marrow and flavor that will make your stock so, so good. The stock is easily stored in the freezer. I like to freeze mine in quart ziplock bags, 2 cup portions. If you let them freeze flat they do not take up much room at all. They can be thawed in the fridge or microwave. You can cook this stock in a slow cooker for 6 hours on high or 10 hours on low.

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4 lbs chicken wings (or one whole 4 lb chicken, or 2 chicken carcasses)
2 large yellow onions, cut into quarters (or sweet onions, or one red onion and one yellow onion, plus or minus green onions)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large carrots, chopped (or a handful of baby carrots)
2 celery ribs, chopped into fourths
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
4 quarts water

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Cook for 3 hours. Taste for seasoning, add salt as needed. Strain with fine mesh sieve.

Yes, that is it.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Vegetable Soup (with beef!)

I started the new year off by cleaning out and organizing my pantry. I am moving in 5 months (!!!) and I am already stressed about using up all the food in my kitchen hoarder’s nest. I did some healthy freezer meal planning and tried to use up anything and everything. This vegetable soup is a great place to use up canned and/or frozen vegetables, broth, and meat. And it is slow cooker friendly! I will admit that I only started using my crock pot on the reg this winter. Before now I was kind of skeptical and did not think that throwing 20 things in one pot for 8 hours could turn out anything good. Now it’s 3 AM, I just got off a swing shift, and Daube Provencale is in the slow cooker. If you haven’t made a New Years resolution yet, it should be to experiment with your crock pot. And if your resolution is to eat healthy – this recipe comes in at 350 calories for each of 8 servings.

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My goal was to use up ingredients so I used some low-ish quality stew meat that was in my freezer for a few months to make this soup. It turned out perfectly tasty. So use meat that you have or whatever is on sale. My mom always makes homemade vegetable soup and this soup reminds me of hers. She makes the soup a little more tomato forward though. You can use really any vegetables you like that you have on hand. Do not try and use up 15 pantry items in one day or you will end up maxing out your Tupperware (see below). My other New Years cleaning project recipes were Chicken Pot Pie Soup and Stuffed Bell Peppers. I also could not tackle soup endeavors without a large pot of homemade chicken stock (see chicken soup a la David Chang for the recipe). And the Split Pea Soup is just too addictive and I had to make more.

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Vegetable Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 lb beef stew meat
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 lb potatoes, diced
8 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook the stew meat in batches, browning all sides, ~5 minutes. Remove steak with slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and mix together.

Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. The steak should be very tender and fall apart with a fork. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove bay leaves before serving.

White Chicken Chili

It still makes me laugh when the temperature drops to below 30 degrees in Eastern NC. People just absolutely panic. Like if they go out to the car they might get hypothermia and die. I personally love it here when it gets this cold. First of all there are a lot less people swarming into the Emergency Department. And there is no traffic. I do think that if it is going to be this cold there should be snow. There is nothing like waking up, looking out the window, and seeing everything covered in a clean sheet of white. Those days are made for cooking stews, chili, and pot roast and baking fresh bread.

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I have to admit that I don’t really like chili that much. I feel like every time I eat chili at someone’s house or at a potluck it tastes like the hospital cafeteria chili. So I thought I would give white chicken chili a shot, and I am glad I did. This is a wonderful dish to warm up your kitchen as winter drags on. It is perfectly spicy and creamy. Serve this with a side salad and a slice of freshly baked bread. One of the reasons I needed to make this chili is that I had some exquisite half and half from a local dairy farm that is about to expire. If you live in Eastern NC, you should definitely look for the products from Simply Natural Farm. The butter and milk are incredible, you will not want to go back to grocery store brands.

White Chicken Chili
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
1½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ ts. ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 (15.5 oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken stock
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles (fire roasted if available)
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
½ cup half-and-half
½  tsp sriracha

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the chicken in this oil, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer pink. Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add the remaining tbsp of oil to the pan, add in the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper and cayenne and sauté 30-60 seconds more, just until fragrant.

Return the chicken to the pan along with the white beans, chicken stock and green chiles.  Bring this to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the chili from the heat and stir in the sour cream and half-and-half. Add in the sriracha. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Barely adapted from Annie’s Eats.