Tuscan Style Soup

I know that the finances are tight right now, so I thought I would share a recipe with you of my take on a Tuscan Style soup. I know it is not authentic, but it is good and makes a very large pot of soup. Most of the ingredients are what you might have on hand at home, so it will save you a trip out to the store.

 I discovered this soup one day this fall when I had a package of bulk sausage thawed out in the fridge and had harvested l large amount of spinach from the community garden. When I Googled recipes with sausage and spinach, this was one of the top choices. Since I had just about all of the ingredients at home, I made a batch and loved it.

            Here are the ingredients for this recipe:

3/4lb of bulk pork sausage

2 cups of fresh spinach

            (Or 1 10oz container or frozen spinach, thawed and drained)

1 onion diced

Pinch of salt

¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon of salt free seasoning mix

 7 small potatoes, diced

2 chicken bouillon cubes

8 cups of water

1 can of evaporated milk (12 oz)

Not an Aldi advertisement, but you can get all of your ingredients cheapest there.

The first thing you need to do is get out your big four-quart soup pot. If you see from my pictures, I had the sausage already cooked. I had cooked up some and put it in the freezer to use for another meal. Sometimes I change my mind on what I want to make for dinner, but I have already thawed out the meat a day or two in advance. To keep the meat from going bad or risk re-freezing it, I typically just cook up the meat and put it in the freezer for when I might need it again.

Today, I took out just under a pound of my cooked sausage and re-heated it on the stove. Since I drained off the fat from cooking it previously, I had to add an additional Tablespoon of vegetable oil into the pot as I was re-heating the sausage. If your sausage is extra lean, you might have to add a little fat to the pot.

Before you begin cooking the sausage, cut up your spinach. My spinach was from my garden and I had to cut it into smaller pieces and cut out stems.

Spinach cut into bite sized pieces.

You will also want to dice your onions before you start cooking your sausage. I cut my onions in half, then I put in horizontal cuts and vertical cuts. Then slice through the onion and you will have diced pieces.

Cut onion in half and remove outer skin.
Staring the vertical cuts to dice the onion.

Now you can start cooking your sausage. Cook the sausage until it is fully cooked. Remove the sausage from the pot, but leave the fat in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the diced onions. Remember to add additional oil to the pot if there is less than a Tablespoon of fat in the pot. You will need to put in just a pinch of salt with the onions.

Cook the sausage. There is very little, to no fat in the pot. I will have to add a Tablespoon of oil to the pot.
Adding the red pepper flakes to the onions.

After cooking the onions for about two minutes, add in the red pepper flakes and the salt free seasoning mix. Reduce the heat to low and cook the seasoned onions for 10 minutes. This will take some time. Please take your time. You don’t want to burn the onions. If the pot seems to be very dry, add in 3 Tablespoons of water and scrape up the bits off the bottom of the pot.

The salt free seasoning mix has a great combination of herbs and spices that enhance the flavor of the soup.

While the onions are slowly cooking, peel and dice your potatoes. You want small enough pieces that you can get a little of everything on your spoon when you eat it.

Onions are cooking and the rest of the prep is underway.

Once the onions are cooked, carefully pour in your eight cups of water. Increase your heat to high heat. Then add in the chicken bouillon cubes. You may not be finished cutting up the potatoes yet, but you need to let the soup come up to a boil again. That should give you enough time to finish cutting the potatoes.

Add the 8 cups of water to the pot. Scrape up any flavor that is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces.

When your potatoes are diced and the soup is up to a boil add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for around 13 minutes.

Potatoes are cooked and the sausage has been added back to the pot.

When the potatoes are cooked (fork tender, but not falling apart), put in the cooked sausage and then add in the spinach to the pot. It will look like it all won’t fit, but the spinach will cook down to practically nothing. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Adding the spinach to the pot of soup.
The spinach cooks down very fast.

Here is where my recipe really clashes from the original recipe. I am not adding any beans and there is no cream in this recipe. I opt for shelf stable evaporated milk. I buy evaporated milk for cooking. That saves me from using our fresh milk for cooking. I never know when I will get into a mood to cook or bake things that require milk, but if I have evaporated milk in my cabinet, then I am ready for whatever comes. You also save calories by using evaporated milk, because evaporated milk is skim milk that has been cooked down until it is nice and creamy.

Finally add in your evaporated milk.

Once you have the milk in, bring to a light simmer and you are done! Let it cool before you eat it. I have yet to make this soup without burning my tongue while taking my first taste.

The soup is finished!

With this recipe, I made 3 full quarts, and one cup of soup. If you are having big bowls of soup, then you will get around 7 servings. If you have a salad and some bread, then you can easily get 14 servings out of this one pot of soup. This soup also freezes well, so if you get tired of eating it after two days, then freeze your leftovers into individual servings.

Considering I have most of these items at home already, it is a super inexpensive recipe. However, if you only had the seasonings, you would only be out around $10 for the rest of the ingredients (Aldi shopping). That includes a whole bag of potatoes and a bag of onions that can be used for other meals.

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