Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Zuppa Bianca (Italian White Soup)

From what I've read, traditionally a zuppa bianca is creamy from the white beans in it, often part of them being blended to thicken the soup.  I didn't want to use that many beans in mine, so I thought I'd try my own spin on the soup and it came out fantastic!
I started with homemade stock that Justin had made the day before.

I'll remind you again - SAVE ALL YOUR VEGGIE ENDS AND BONES!  Every time we cut off broccoli stems, carrot ends, onion ends, herb stems, and leftover bones we throw them into a Ziplock bag and stick 'em in the freezer.  Sooner or later you've got a full bag and you can put it all in a stock pot, add water, and make your own stock!  It's so easy, you're using every bit of the vegetable, and it's worth it to make homemade stock!

I also wanted to add anchovy, pepper, fennel and mushrooms to my zuppa bianca... also not traditional as far as I can tell, but man, they were a killer, tasty addition!  Served it up with some crusty bread and that was all you needed!  It might have been good with a little fresh Parmesan grated onto it, but we didn't have any.

This recipe makes a huge batch... you could probably half the recipe and it'd be fine, but being that I made it in a huge batch, that's the quantities I'm throwing at you.  I say make a huge batch and you can freeze the leftovers to pull out later when you don't feel like cooking.  That's what we do.

I love punk rock.  But there's a lot of old music that I really love too - I think I can sing more songs from the 60s than most people who lived through the 60s... though drugs might have something to do with that for a lot of folks.  So when punk bands cover songs from the 60s, it's no surprise that I usually love them.  (I never even stood a chance with the Gimmes.)  So let's listen to the Adolescents covering Eric Burdon and The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun"... the only song I was ever able to play on the organ, but probably can't now.  Plus... how many punk songs can you name with a harmonica solo?  -jen

Time:  about 1 hour
Difficulty:  Easy
  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 anchovies packed in oil
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium
  • 1 cup diced fennel bulb (about 1 medium), reserve 1/4 cup of the fronds, chopped
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper (about 1 large)
  • 2.5 cups diced onions (about 1 large)
  • 3 cups diced crimini mushrooms
  • 1.5 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 medium cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus extra
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 cups 1/2" cubed potatoes (about 1 large potato), skin on
  • 1 can (14oz) white beans, reserve liquid
  • 3 cups chopped kale (remember to remove stems)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • lemon wedges
In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, brown the Italian sausage.  Remove sausage and set aside.  Leave 2 tablespoons of the sausage fat in the pot, discard the rest.  (That was all I actually got out of my sausage, but some sausage is fattier than others.)  Add olive oil and the anchovies to the sausage fat in the pot and cook 1 minute.  Add celery, carrots, fennel bulb, bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, white pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring intermittently, until vegetables begin to soften and onions are just turning translucent.  Add white wine and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken stock, potatoes and the liquid from the beans (don't add the beans yet).  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes (fish one out and test it).  Once potatoes are tender, add cooked sausage, beans, kale, heavy cream, basil, parley and the reserved chopped fennel fronds.  Taste the soup and add salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve each bowl with a wedge of lemon to squeeze onto the soup.

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