It’s September and for some this means cold weather is fast approaching. (In Oklahoma, we wouldn’t know about this. It is currently 90 degrees which is actually cooler than it has been.) Irregardless, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the temperatures should be getting cooler sooner or later.
That means we are approaching soup season.
#SoupSwapParty (aptly named) is here to celebrate the publication of Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share (Chronicle, September 13, 2016) by Kathy Gunst, resident chef for NPR’s “Here and Now.” Gunst’s book features sixty terrific recipes, including classics such as creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled-Cheese Croutons plus international favorites like Thai Red Curry-Chicken Noodle Soup. Each recipe has suggested sides to make it a meal and tips for easy transporting, which makes them just right to bring to a soup swap where everyone can sample the offerings and then take home a variety of leftovers to enjoy all week.
I usually don’t read introductions to cookbooks, but Gunst’s description of how this book came to be is an interesting read. Faced with an unreasonably harsh and long New England winter, Gunst found herself having soup for breakfast, lunch, dinner and “afternoon-pick-me-ups.” With all the winter isolation ahead, Gunst and a friend (aptly named Hope) created a “Second Sunday Soup Swap Supper” event for a group of neighbors and thus a new soup communing group was born.
Since I have loads of zucchini and still have fresh herbs growing, I decided to try “Hope’s Italian Sausage-Zucchini Soup” (110-111). This is truly a heirloom recipe:
The recipe for this hearty soup originally came from my friend Hope Murphy’s mother, Carol, who discovered it decades ago in the food section of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Newspaper, The Republican.
This soup is adaptable to what you have on hand. Use your choice of turkey or pork (or even chicken) sausage and canned or homemade chicken stock. The choice of herbs is yours as well.
Hope’s Italian Sasuage-Zucchini Soup
from Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst
3 T. olive oil
8 oz. sweet Italian sausage (pork or turkey), casings removed
8 oz. hot Italian sausage (pork or turkey), casings removed
1 small onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 (28 oz.) cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juices
2 T. mix of chopped herbs, packed (basil, parsley, oregano)*
1 t. granulated sugar
2 lb. zucchini, shredded* (or about 4 cups)
3 large celery stalks, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced*
2 c. chicken broth
pinch of chili flakes, optional
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 c. chopped herb mixture (basil, oregano, parsley)
In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add all of the sausage, stirring and breaking up for 6 to 8 minutes, or until just brown. (If there is a lot of grease, remove all but 1 T. of it.) Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the tomatoes with their juices, herbs, and sugar; cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Add the zucchini, celery, bell pepper, broth, and chile flakes (if using). Raise the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls, garnish with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan and herbs. and serve.
*The only deviations I made from the original recipe was to use shredded zucchini for a “pasta” effect. (The original recipe calls for the squash to be halved and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.) I also used a red bell pepper instead of a green one and I had a bit of grated carrots left over from another recipe. I threw these in as well. For the herbs, I used a mix of parsley, rosemary, thyme and basil. Because I didn’t want a carton of chicken stock to go to waste, I used the entire 32 oz. container. Obviously a very versatile and adaptable soup! 🙂
Gunst suggest serving this soup with Crostada with Butternut, Red Onion, and Feta (found on page 153). Another tip is to pack the grated cheese and chopped herbs in a separate container if you are transporting the soup.
Soup Swap contains instructions for hosting your own soup swap party and three adhesive stickers to label your soup jars or containers. There is a section on creating your own broths and stocks along with a collection of suggested side dishes, garnishes and toppings. This book is definitely a great collection and includes sections on vegetable soups, chicken and turkey soups, meat soups, and seafood soups and chowders. Most recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs.
Reader discretion advised. Here come a political rant:
With all the budget cuts in Oklahoma regarding public education, we struggled at my school to find ways to cut costs without directly effecting student services. One of the first obvious cuts was to stop paying for teachers’ lunches. In a way, this was a no-brainer because no students would be affected. But, this free lunch was a rare perk that many teachers had come to rely upon. What compounded this difficult decision is that our teachers are now the lowest paid in the nation. (A first year teacher in Oklahoma can expect to make no more than $31,600 for the 2016-17 school year.) One of my best teacher/leaders (and friend) struggled with this inequity and finally decided she could gain no financial traction in Oklahoma. She went across the state line to Arkansas and immediately found a $17,000 pay increase. This economic shortfall when it comes to teacher salaries in Oklahoma is nothing new. My first year teaching (albeit almost thirty years ago), I brought home $900 a month. (Subsequently, I racked up huge credit card debt.)
I am off my soap box now. My point is that I have been taking my lunch to school this year (as has most of the staff). I found lots of great ideas for potlucking in Gunst’s Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share, so many that I may be recruiting some other helpers in doing our own Soup Swap Party at work.
Chef’sChoice® ProntoPro™ Diamond Hone® Knife Sharpener, the fastest manual sharpener available for sharpening both 15 degree and 20 degree knife edges, kept my knives sharp for dicing and slicing.
The Zeroll® 8720 4-ounce Stainless Steel Ladle features a deep bowl that is perfect for serving piping hot soup and the Zeroll® #8511 Nylon Slotted Serving Spoon is perfect for stirring. I also love the colors.
Chronicle BooksKathy GunstBook Club Cookbook:Chef’s Choice
Note: A review copy of Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share was provided to me by the publisher and The Book Club Cookbook in return for an honest review. I was not compensated for this post and as always my thoughts and opinions (and political rants) are my own.
I am also linking up to Deb’s Kahakai Kitchen “Souper Sunday.”