When the weather outside is frightful, a good soup can be delightful.
Never did that statement ring truer than over New Year’s weekend here in rainy California. To counteract the damp weather and to fill my in-laws’ freezer with something easy and good to eat during our recent visit, I made a batch of Vacation Condo Soup.
Vacation Condo Soup is what I make when I don’t have access to a full pantry, a stocked refrigerator and the batterie de cuisine is well, battered, or at best minimal. I have made versions of this in rental condos and “suite” hotel rooms with kitchens across the country. Since my in-laws don’t scratch cook much any more, this recipe was called for.
The soup is satisfying and really plays off the sweet fennel taste of the turkey sausage. It is rich tasting and crammed with vegetables, potatoes, chicken and the sausage. It is a meal in a bowl. My taste testers say this soup is too good just to have when you are on vacation.
Vacation Condo Soup Commando
It is always best if you can scope out your kitchen equipment before you have to shop, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Usually, you’ll have a big dull and/ or serrated knife, a paring knife, a small plastic cutting board, an assortment of pots and pans (including one big enough for a modest amount of soup or half package of spaghetti) and enough other equipment to get by if you keep it simple.
A few condos (usually those owned by individuals and not corporations or timeshares) have had small supplies of cooking oil and spices. More, but not all, have had salt and pepper.
So the plan is to limit knife work, boost flavors without having to spend a lot of money on herbs and spices and keep it easy (after all you are on vacation).
One tip: You can store your soup in the fridge in the pot it was made in with the lid on it. But if you think you might need the pot some other time during your stay, pick up some of those disposable plastic food storage containers during your supermarket foray.
Vacation Condo Soup or, Vegetable Soup with Sausage and Chicken
Makes about six one-and-a-half cup servings.
2 tablespoons of olive or other oil (or 4-6 pats of butter or margarine stolen from the breakfast buffet)
16-19 ounces of sweet Italian-style turkey sausage, sliced into ½ inch rounds, amount depends on package size. (Can’t find it in the market? Regular pork sweet Italian sausage will work, too. Want a spicy soup? Use hot Italian sausage instead.)
1 small or ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or chopped fine
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled (use that paring knife if there is no potato peeler) and cut into ¼ cubes
2- 14 to 16 ounce packages of frozen Italian vegetable assortment. (I recommend C&W’s seasoned Ultimate Tuscan with artichoke hearts, red bell peppers, yellow zucchini, soybeans, Italian green beans and spinach) Yes, of course you can use fresh veggies, that’s what I do at home, just figure on about 4 or more cups of trimmed, chopped vegetables.
2-14.5 ounce cans of diced Italian-style tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic (I used DelMonte. If you can’t find the seasoned diced tomatoes, use the seasoned stewed.)
1-32 ounce box or can of chicken stock, preferably lower sodium
4-6 ounces of shredded, roasted or grilled chicken (I had leftover roast chicken from a restaurant meal the night before. No doggie bag? Look in the market’s prepared foods section for pre-cooked chicken breast. Or use 6-8 ounces of boneless, skinless raw chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces.)
Salt and pepper to taste (bring home some packets from a fast food restaurant or the breakfast buffet if your condo is bare).
Heat the oil or other fat in a three quart pot or larger. When the oil is hot, add the sliced turkey sausage. Sauté until browned on both sides. Remove the browned slices from pot (leaving the oil and drippings in the pot) and let drain on a paper towel-lined bowl or plate. (You may need to do this in batches if your pot is very narrow. Don’t crowd the pot or the slices will steam not brown.)
Add the chopped onions and sauté until softened and a bit golden, stirring up any sausage bits that might be stuck to the bottom on pan. Add garlic and sauté for a minute or so until just colored. Add potato cubes and mix thoroughly. Add frozen vegetables and sauté for a minute or two. Add the diced or stewed tomatoes with their juice. Stir well to combine.
Let simmer for a few minutes for tastes to combine. Add chicken stock. Stir to combine.
Return to simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. If using RAW chicken, add the bite size pieces now. Simmer an additional 10 minutes (20 minutes total), check potato cubes, if almost soft enough to eat, return browned sausage slices to pot and add in pre-cooked, shredded chicken. If the potato cubes have not yet softened sufficiently, cover and simmer, checking periodically until they are and then add sausage and pre-cooked chicken.
Cover pot and continue to simmer until potatoes, sausage and raw chicken (if using) are cooked through.
Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. (Because of the pre-seasoned ingredients and the commercial chicken stock you may not need to add much, if any, salt.)
This soup is my first submission to Sweetnicks’ weekly antioxidant rich foods cooking round up. For flavorful recipes that are good for you, too, posted every Tuesday, check it out at Sweetnicks. I posted too late for this week’s ARF5-A-Day Roundup, but Sweetnicks assures me I’ll be in the wrap up next Tuesday.
Vacation Condo Soup is brought to you by the following Top 20 antioxidants – cooked artichoke hearts and russet potatoes. Honorable mention to the tomatoes, beans and other vegetables.