TCA: Spinach, Mushroom, and Rice Soup

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.

Saute those onions & shallots

Saute those onions & shallots

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.

Add in those 'shrooms

Add in those 'shrooms

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.

Add a few bay leaves for flavor if using vegetable stock

Add a few bay leaves for flavor if using vegetable stock

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.

This is my one cup of pre-cooked rice

This is my one cup of pre-cooked 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!

Add in those tomatoes.  One diced can or more if you want.

Add in those tomatoes. One diced can or more if you want.

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!

Now, with spinach added and just quickly warmed up.  Nice bright green!

Now, with spinach added and just quickly warmed up. Nice bright green!

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).

Spinach, Mushroom, and Rice Soup: With (or without) Cheese

Spinach, Mushroom, and Rice Soup: With (or without) Cheese

Recipe

  • 1/2 onion diced (Optional: AND 1 small shallot, finely diced AND Swiss Chard stems in small pieces)
  • 6 sweet Italian sausages 1.5 pounds of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 14 cups beef or chicken vegetable 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

  1. Saute the diced onions (and shallots and swiss chard if using) in a bit of butter or oil until translucent and fragrant
  2. Add your mushrooms and cook until sweated.  Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add your stock and let it boil up
  4. If using veggie stock, add 3 bay leaves for more flavor.  Garlic powder at this point adds a good taste too
  5. Mix in the tomatoes and rice
  6. If the rice is not cooked, wait for it to cook up.  About 20 minutes or so.
  7. 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
  8. Serve with a dash of shredded cheese (or not) and gobble up!

May all your eating be like a delicious adventure!

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18 thoughts on “TCA: Spinach, Mushroom, and Rice Soup

  1. I just wet myself lavishly and with utter glee. That’s tea sorted for tonight. A thousand thank yous, and the soup will be just right to help us recover from a really, really nasty bout of gastroenteritis.

    Don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but it’s been chapping my arse lately: Duke University just released a study how obese people are less productive at work and cost employers more money with compensation claims. I guess they figure fat folks take longer to waddle up the stairs to their desks, trip over their own feet because they can’t even see them, and just like to sit around the break room scarfing doughnuts and sugar-laden coffees.

    I can tell you that of the people who work in hubby’s office (and it’s a small one) the amount of unproductive time is spread evenly between the obese and the whippet thin evenly. I generally don’t doubt what Duke studies issue, but I also remember that Duke and a lot of other well-respected groups swore up and down that low-fat diets were the way to go to “lose weight-be healthy-live a long time-be happy”.

    • I am really familiar with the “productivity” data — and anyone who thinks that obesity causes low productivity is analyzing the data wrong — willfully.
      If anything, a major confounder that wasn’t taken into account was probably the impact of weight/size bias and discrimination. Being treated poorly at work has a proven impact on productivity, but I am willing to be a good sum of money that they didn’t measure “organizational culture” “weight bias” or “employee satisfaction” and then attempt to account for those in the analysis.
      If they did, they would have needed to see that how employees perceived they were treated, empowered, promoted, etc. would have accounted for much of the variance in productivity. And would require a whole different set of actions to remedy than blaming employees for being fat, and pressuring employers into covering weight loss schemes as part of health insurance.

  2. That looks really warming. As a vegetarian I could see myself adding field meat sausages which would deepen the flavor and make it more savory. mmm soup 🙂

  3. It looks delicious, though, as unrepentent carnivore, I would likely opt for both mushrooms & sausage. I might like to try both versions, I think. As for Duke, all I can say is ‘idiots’ for repeating all the prejudice, ignorance, & hatred of our culture.

  4. YUM! That looks good. I would opt for fresh criminis myself (canned ‘shrooms give me the willies). I find criminis give a good “meaty” flavor in things without meat.

  5. I was thumbing through the Duke University Alumni magazine, which isn’t a bad publication once you get past the WE ARE DUKE…WE ARE GENETICALLY SUPERIOR TO ALL LIFE FORMS attitude, as well as the advertisements for Homes of Distinction in the back, when that article caught my eye. Specifically, it’s the loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by obesity, and how those illnesses cost the company’s insurance policy more money than thin people ever could. You can see where this will lead, with rising health insurance prices: employers will now start judging potential job applicants’ hire-ability based on weight because obviously if you hire a fatty, they’re just going to be lazy, develop diabetes, take more sick days, etc.

    It started to smack of discrimination, like the way some employers won’t hire women because they don’t want to pay for potential maternity leave. And the researcher based his findings on…you guessed it…the BMI scale. I did a little research on the history of the BMI, and I was shocked to find it’s about as scientifically accurate as phrenology, but because it’s free, requires no medical training or instruments, doctors and insurance underwriters love it.

    Really eye-opening, that article.

    • Yorkie I have a feeling it isn’t a case of this study starting a trend of employer discrimination against fatties. This sounds more like research done to prove why such already existing discrimination is merited. Disappointing, especially when (as you pointed out) it is all based on numbers which were NEVER intended to be used as individual measures of health!

  6. April, I love your cooking photo essays even if I don’t always comment. I will make this the next time I have vegetarians/vegans for dinner (wait, I mean over for dinner!) — I could add vegan Italian sausage to it at the end, too. Yum yum yum yum!

    • AcceptanceWoman: glad you enjoy the cooking posts 😀 I have quite a few ready for posting finally so I’m excited about that. I’m not sure if adding vegan sausage would be better at the end or at the start when frying up the onions/mushrooms since I’ve not worked with such stuff before but if you do try it out I’d love to hear how it went!

  7. Y’know, I’m pretty much sworn off meat, but the idea of Italian sausage in this soup really sounds quite tempting. I’m still new at this!!

    Anyway, April, you might be interested in this link. It’s to my blog, and it’s an article I just finished righting about that Duke study. It honked me off so badly the words just exploded from my head and onto the keyboard. Let me know what you think (and anyone else as well, particularly weak points).

    http://denofiniquityprime.blogspot.com/2011/02/wtf-friday-duke-finds-obese-people-are.html

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