I don’t enjoy cooking. At all. I find it to be the most challenging chore I have to do daily. And maybe that is because it is a daily thing, or thrice daily thing as the case may be. Maybe because I am surrounded by little critics who rate my cooking in a way they don’t rate any of the other things that I do around the house. I mean I am not sure the last time anyone came over to me and said, “I hate the way you cleaned the toilet.” or “Great hospital corners on my bed, mom!”
Two things I think every kitchen needs: a crockpot and a bread maker.
Oh I hear you now. Why do I want a breadmaker? It makes the bread in such a weird shape. I can’t make sandwiches out of it. Blah Blah Blah. Yes, I hear you saying that. I am here to tell you that having freshly made bread can take an otherwise ho-hum meal and turn it into a great one. Seriously.
Is there anything better than coming home from a long day and having hot soup in your crockpot and hot bread to eat with it? No, I don’t think so. Once you take the bread maker out and start using it, you will be a convert. You will use it so often that our family will beg you to stop baking bread. No, I am kidding. Who would ever complain about freshly baked bread? No one.
This is one of my new favorite soups.
Italian Sausage Soup
2T olive oil
1lb Italian sausage with casings removed
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
2 stalks celery chopped
Clove garlic chopped
1/4 tsp dried red pepper
1/4 tsp dried sage
14 oz can diced tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
16 oz can kidney beans
1 cup cooked pasta shells
Wine, generous splash. You could leave this out, but why would you? I never use cooking wine, instead I use the regular wine I would serve with my meal.
In a pan, heat the oil and brown the sausage and onions. Dump it into the crock pot with all the rest of the ingredients except the pasta shells.
Turn on low.
Put ingredients in your bread maker. Usually a combination of water, butter, flour, salt, yeast, sugar. Turn on the delay setting so that it will be done at dinner time.
Go on with your day. Work. Work. Make phone calls. Pause briefly to give thanks that dinner is already taken care of. Work some more.
Finally about half an hour before you want to eat go cook up some pasta shells.
Here is where I let you in on a secret. Come in closer. Clooooooser. Okay, Make a bunch more than the 1 cup the recipe calls for. Because odds are one of your children will not want to eat the soup. That’s how kids are. They are annoying little things. So make the extra pasta shells and LET IT GO. If you really want to get crazy you can put out a bowl of decorative carrot sticks. But only if it makes you feel better.
Put the 1 cup of cooked shells into the soup. Put the rest in a side dish with some melted butter, a bowl of grated cheese next to it. Slice up your still warm bread into large crusty squares. Pour yourself a big glass of wine.
And now you can feel like a superstar.
Have another glass of wine as a reward. Julia Child would approve.