Wednesday, January 3, 2018

soup weather ~ and car update

 We finally hit a balmy 13 degrees today. Feels like a heat wave compared to the sub-zero temps we'd been having.

We eat a lot of soup in the winter and I love making up my own recipes. This is the soup I made last night - Italian Sausage and Fennel soup. You won't believe how good your house smells when this is cooking. Brian walked in the door from work and exclaimed, "It smells so good in here!" We all ate two bowls full for dinner. And there was enough leftover for lunches today. If you don't want to make that much, just halve the recipe.

I absolutely love fennel. It has a strong anise (think licorice) scent and mild flavor when raw. Don't let this deter you. I hate licorice, but I love fennel. This doesn't taste anything like the candy! It's delicious sliced thinly and incorporated into a salad. As for cooking, it mellows and becomes almost undiscernible. In fact, next time I make this, I'm going to use two fennel bulbs. We loved this soup so much, we all had two bowls each last night. Give it a try. Anyone can make homemade soup. The hardest part is chopping the veggies!

1 lb bulk mild Italian sausage
1 T extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1 - 2 bulbs fennel (depending on the size & your preference), diced
2 leeks, diced (be sure to use only the white & light green parts &
rinse thoroughly - the layers can contain sand & grit)
3 small carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes or tomato puree
6-8 cups broth (chicken and/or vegetable)*
Sprinkling of red pepper flakes
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp each oregano & thyme
1/2 cup ditalini
1 5 oz pkg baby spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive or avocado oil (don't use toxic oils such as vegetable or canola) and add the Italian sausage. Cook on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked completely. Remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon, onto a plate lined with paper towels to catch the grease.

Add fennel, leeks, carrots and garlic to the pot. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes, until veggies are slightly tender. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of broth, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, oregano & thyme. Stir to incorporate. Bring mixture to a soft boil and add the ditalini. Turn heat back down to low and let simmer for 8 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. Stir in the baby spinach. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

*You may find while the pasta is cooking or even when the soup is done, that you need to add more broth. The pasta absorbs a lot of the liquid. I used more than 1/2 cup ditalini in my recipe and if you do the same (if you like a lot of noodles), then you will need to add more broth.

 On a totally different note, I am holding my breath until the mechanic calls me by the end of the day about my car. He called yesterday to tell me he at least knew it was engine misfire (I knew that, too - from a Google search) and that he'd be looking into why the engine misfire today. There's several things it could be; some minor, some major. We are hoping for the minor, of course. This is a Honda Accord and yes, it's old (it's a 2001) but it only has 156,000 miles on it, which is "nothing" for a Honda. To-date, it's never given me any problems except for routine maintenance. I sure don't want to be car shopping in this frigid weather...heck, I don't want to be car shopping at any time, but I know that's life. And I also dread the thought of car payments again. I wouldn't be buying a brand-new vehicle; I'd be looking for a used one. But even a good used vehicle is pricey these days. I'm getting ahead of myself, so on that note, I am going to have a cup of chamomile tea and then do my daily yoga. 


  1. Hi Melanie!
    The dish looks warm and hearty!
    I hope your car troubles iron themselves out.

  2. I love soup and in the winter I also eat a lot of it. I can't eat much sausage but this recipe looks good. I hope the car repairs are on the low side!

  3. Hopefully it's just the filters and lines that need a good cleaning. Could be anything, so I'm hoping for you that it will be a minor fix. I love soup any time of the year, even when it's scorching. :)

  4. I love your soup recipes. You should write a soup cookbook. I would buy the hell out of that.

  5. Soup does look good - perhaps I could leave the sausage out and make a veg version!
    I make a soup almost daily - yesterday was mushroom, so rich and comforting as we watched our first dusting of snow fall.
    Hope your car returns to health - we rely on them so much.
    My 2009 Toyota Avalon is aging in years but runs like a new baby still - only have 30,000 miles on it!

    Happy New Year Melanie.

  6. The soup looks delicious! :) Hope the car can be fixed.

  7. Hi Melanie, I love licorice, but I have never tasted fennel. I think I better just put it on my grocery list :) My Steve has been driving a company truck for about ten years now . . . no truck payment and rarely do we even have to buy gas, also we only pick up a portion of the insurance for when he drives it for personal use, which is okay with his company. This year he retires. That means buying a pick-up, buying gas and full insurance, all that and less paycheck. It has been haunting me, LOL. I know that it will all work out, but it will certainly be a change. I've saved up and have about half the price of a pick-up in savings, but they are so pricey and we don't buy new either. I do hope that your car problems are small and that your mechanic calls with good news :)
    Keep Smiling!
    Connie :)

  8. Oh boy, I hope the car is an easy fix. And the soup looks great. We are socked in with snow and wind and cold. Brrr. Soup day here, too! Enjoy your tea and yoga!

  9. That soup looks so yummy especially on a cold winter day. I think I am going to try this one. Thanks for the recipe. I hope your car is a minor fix. I agree with you car shopping is the pits.
    Good luck for good news.

  10. Happy New Year!!
    May this New Year be special in every way ... bringing you the gift of love and excitement.
    I will introduce Japanese New Year's customs.
    In Japan, there is a New Year holiday where family and relatives get together.
    On New Year, Japanese children receive gifts of money known as "Otoshidama".
    Otoshidama is given to children by adult relatives such as uncles, aunts and grandparents.
    The amount of Otoshidama grows as the child older, for example, 1000 yen for children under 10, and 3000 yen for children over 10.
    Otoshidama is one of the exciting traditions of New Year, which children look forward to very much.

  11. I love soup, and in fact made some today (ham and corn chowder). There's nothing better when the winds are howling! Your soup looks amazing!!

    May 2018 bring you nothing but good things Melanie!


  12. Oh, I hope you had good news about your car. I'm with you, I'm so done with car payments, and I'm hoping our 2012 Toyota lasts forever:/

    The soup looks delicious! We're big on soup for supper, too, and I'm always looking for something new to try. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  13. Looks delicious! I make a lot of soups here too :-) Hope all is ok with your car, Honda's do last forever it seems :-) Way to go with the yoga and tea is my favorite! Just about any flavor is good to me. Have a great weekend.


  14. Your soup looks delicious and I love the smell of soup simmering especially in frigid weather like everyone has been experiencing. I drive a 2004 Honda Element which I purchased new and it has about 167,000 miles on it. I hope to drive it for at least that many more miles. Even an expensive repair bill would be more acceptable to me than replacing it. Good luck with your vehicle!

  15. I am a bit of a soup-a-holic and your recipe sounds delicious. Stay warm!


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