Okay so ORIGINALLY this soup was “Bertucci’s Spinach and Sausage Soup”. But I’ve tried it with sausage both crumbled, ground and chopped links. I’ve also tried with plain hamburger. And then I tried it without meat. I have to say that I really prefer this meatless version over the meat-in version.
The first thing I had to do, though, in removing the meat, was add something to bulk the soup up and give it back that hefty texture that the meat provided. My solution was to add mushrooms. A quite delectable decision too, I might add!
So here’s where I started: Bertucci’s Sausage Soup. Like I said, though, I wanted to cut out that meaty requirement and make it even more veggie-filled. Mushrooms are earthy and filling and, frankly, I just love them. So, I opted for a good batch of white button mushrooms; cut into fairly large chunks. I did find that using canned mushrooms works too but with fresh mushrooms you can chopped them into larger chunks and fry them up with the onions/shallots at the start too so that gives it a nice added flavor.
So! To start I chopped everything up and got it ready. I’ve learned with soups that there really is never enough time to chop things up in between steps; it’s easier to do it all first and then just go about the recipe steps.
Once that’s all ready, I get a few tablespoons of butter or oil going in the bottom of the big pot I plan to have the soup in. (This is because without the sausage it helps to saute the onions with a bit of something). Once that is hot/melted, I got the onions (and shallots) going. If adding Swiss Chard I would do that once the onions are translucent. I add some salt and pepper at this point too.
Next, I add the mushrooms. Here you’ll notice that they are the canned version but I’ve also liked the big button mushrooms fresh and chopped up. I imagine a mix of mushroom varieties might enhance things as well.
Once those things are soft and smell awesome, it is time to work on making it into soup. Add all of the broth and wait for things to boil up again. When it does, add 3 bay leaves. I found that this added to the flavor nicely when using the veggie-only stock but didn’t really need it when using the chicken broth.
Once that is bubbling up with the leaves I add the rice. Now if you already have some left-over rice; the soup will be ready pretty quickly after. If not, you will have about 20 minutes of boil-time so that the rice will cook up. Not too shabby still, even if you need to add uncooked rice.
Next, get all those tasty diced tomatoes in there to boil up with the rice. You’ll see some more mushrooms in this next image; it’s because I was using leftover tomatoes that I had mixed with mushrooms for a very basic marinara sauce the night before. Truly, anything goes!
Now you just wait for the flavors to meld a bit. If you already have the cooked rice in there; it just needs a few minutes before you can dump in the chopped-up spinach leaves (or Swiss Chard!) I learned that with Swiss Chard you should rip off the leaves and keep them for last, just like spinach. Just saute the stems in small pieces at the start with the onions. Otherwise the leaves get a bit over-cooked. Lesson learned!
When it smells so good that you just can’t stand it; dish it up into bowls and add a sprinkle of Mozz Cheese (or not, if you’re like Adam D and prefer un-cheesed soup).
- 1/2 onion diced (Optional: AND 1 small shallot, finely diced AND Swiss Chard stems in small pieces)
6 sweet Italian sausages1.5 pounds of mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 14 cups
beef or chickenvegetable stock
- 1 cup white rice uncooked OR 3 cups white rice cooked
- 1 cup chunky Italian plum tomatoes OR 1 can diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, Oregano (one of those diced tomato mixes with herbs in it)
- 1/2-1/4 lb. of spinach OR 1/2 lb. Swiss Chard leaves – cleaned, destemed and ripped up
- 3 bay leaves
- shredded mozzarella cheese
If you use the crossed-out directions instead you will get the original sausagy soup instead of the vegetarian version
- Saute the diced onions (and shallots and swiss chard if using) in a bit of butter or oil until translucent and fragrant
- Add your mushrooms and cook until sweated. Add salt and pepper.
- Add your stock and let it boil up
- If using veggie stock, add 3 bay leaves for more flavor. Garlic powder at this point adds a good taste too
- Mix in the tomatoes and rice
- If the rice is not cooked, wait for it to cook up. About 20 minutes or so.
- When rice is tender (taste it. Crunchy bits of rice really detract from the soup’s delicious-osity), add the spinach and boil a few more minutes just to warm the spinach up
- Serve with a dash of shredded cheese (or not) and gobble up!
May all your eating be like a delicious adventure!