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Italian Sausage Soup and an Ode to Small Appliances

Categories: Cooking, Food, Meal Planning


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

1tsp basil

1tsp rosemary

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.

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31 comments so far...

  • I totally agree on the 2 most important small appliances, though I’ll raise it to 3 with the george forman grill (the BEST way to cook bacon, or any grilled items in winter).

    I use the bread machine all the time, but I usually only use the dough setting, then take it out, knead it, put it in a loaf pan, rise and bake it that way for a ‘normal’ sandwich style loaf. Very tasty.

    Katrina  |  January 8th, 2008 at 5:33 pm

  • so when are you having us all over for dinner? :) YUMMY love love love fresh bread i dont care what shape it is in! however, i do not own a breadmaker… yes yes, i know, it’s very sad indeed…

    Kate  |  January 8th, 2008 at 8:05 pm

  • My bread maker and I have issues which result in the under-use of the bread making. The problem is the outside of the bread gets over done and the inside is still doughy. It has happened with multiple recipes so I’m fairly certain the problem lies with either the bread machine or me.

    Jenni  |  January 8th, 2008 at 8:16 pm

  • Do you make gluten-free bread in your bread maker? The few times I’ve tried it, I’ve come out with a under (or over) done, bizarrely-shaped mess… gluten-free flours — even non-sandy-feeling ones like millet — are so sticky I can never get the bread out of the machine so that it looks anything like bread…

    Chris says: No. I only make bread for the family now in the bread maker. But I miss it. Gluten-free bread really really sucks.

    Lylah  |  January 9th, 2008 at 2:55 am

  • I know… my three oldest kids are GF; my 9 1/2 year old is allergic to casein, too, so no dairy of any kind for him.

    I have a recipe for a millet bread that’s GF and has a good texture (no rice flour involved!). Of course, it doesn’t taste like regular wheat bread. But it works well if you’re slathering it with butter and making a gooey grilled cheese. Msg or email me if you want the recipe.

    Lylah  |  January 9th, 2008 at 3:23 am

  • I would add “kitchen aid mixer”, but then I don’t have a bread maker, so what do I know. It’s been mulling about in my mind to get one, though. Can you recommend the one you have? (Are all bread makers not alike?)

    Jolyn  |  January 9th, 2008 at 5:01 am

  • Not to be an idiot (wait… TOO LATE!) but you mean WHITE wine for the soup, yes? (Red seems wrong for chicken broth….)

    I have to tell you, ever since I started making bread with my own two hands I have forgotten my pining for a machine. Maybe I’m just not busy enough (hahahahahaha… man, I crack myself up) but I do love the therapeutic value of a bit of kneading during a tough day. (Also, whenever I bake bread, I make multiple loaves and freeze the extras for the days when I don’t have time to bake.)

    Chris says: I used red. I think it makes it okay because of the sausage.

    Mir  |  January 9th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

  • I actually prefer my kitchen-aid to my bread-maker, because of the loaf-shape thing… the kitchen-aid makes wonderful dough of more varied batch sizes than the bread maker, and I just let it languish on the counter all afternoon, doing it’s rising thing before tossing it onto my pizza stone to bake before dinner.

    I can however, see the point in a breadmaker during the summer months.

    wookie  |  January 9th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

  • I agree, gf bread is the pits. However there is a bakery in the Finger Lakes region that has pretty good bread — Le Garden:

    I don’t know if their ingredients will comply with your other sensitivities.

    hollygee  |  January 9th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

  • Oh I have been craving a good hearty slow-cooker soup. I’ll try this soon! Thanks!!

    aimee  |  January 9th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

  • I, um, love my crockpot.

    We’re gluten free—the best bread I have found is the new Whole Foods line of sandwich bread mix. I am pretty sure the label is called 365; it’s cheap, about $3 a box and rises nicely. I don’t have a bread maker right now, but would be interested to see how it fares in one.

    This bread rises and has an awesome crust.

    crockpot lady  |  January 9th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  • Just got a new Black and Decker horizontal breadmaker for Christmas and still trying to tweak my recipes - it doesn’t cook the way my old West Bend did (sniff I miss my West Bend). I am running out to buy Italian sausage - dinner is done for tomorrow!

    Thanks Chris!

    Sherri  |  January 9th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

  • I have a Zojirushi (sp?) bread machine and it makes the loaf shaped like a regular loaf of bread. So we get the benefit of bread that is both yummy and good looking.

    Helene  |  January 9th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

  • I have had a bread machine NEW IN THE BOX in my closet for about 2 years, which was a hand-me-down from my Mother, who had it for years before giving it to me. I might actually get it out, after reading this.

    cristen  |  January 9th, 2008 at 8:03 pm

  • Would it be possible for you to post the recipe you use in your bread machine? I have mixed results with mine- I love it when the loaf works out but is there anything more dissappointing than anticipating waking up to a fresh warm loaf, and discovering a failed lump of dough? Maybe it’s just me…
    On another note, re cooking, my family and I are cooking our way through Nigella Express and have found some great quick easy recipes ( Last year we only cooked dinners from Rachael Ray’s 365 Recipes book. We rated the recipes by star system and you can see the best (quickest, easiest, tastiest) ones by looking in the five star category on our blog

    Helen  |  January 10th, 2008 at 12:23 am

  • Ah yes, the crockpot & breadmaker are definitely right up there in the top three (although I think #1 is my Kitchenaid stand mixer)!

    Definitely going to try this recipe, thank you!

    Also, I have a Breadman Pro and it has a wonderful Gluten-free setting that really makes decent gluten-free bread. :)

    ChristieNY  |  January 10th, 2008 at 12:41 am

  • I just got a new breadmaker for Christmas and I have been using it non stop. I started using my crockpot again too.

    Can’t wait to try the soup, and I will do as you say with the other noodles. My son likes just butter on his. Ah, whatever works!

    Jamie  |  January 10th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

  • Was wondering how many servings this is?

    Chris says: I am going to say 8ish? You can also freeze what you don’t eat and pull it out next week. So you aren’t stuck eating the same soup for a week.

    Kelly  |  January 10th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

  • I made the soup last night for dinner (without the pasta, since I was too lazy to boil another pan of water). Delicious! And I have enough left over for another meal, since our family only has four people.

    CDM  |  January 10th, 2008 at 6:11 pm

  • Thanks for the crock pot recipe! I am looking for things to make in the crock pot (I am crock pot handicapped - never had one until I got married). Do you think you can cook the sausage and onions the night before then just dump everything in the morning.

    My MIL gave me a bread maker and it sat on my counter taking up space for over a year. I ended up giving it away to someone who wanted to make gluten free bread. It’s easier for me to stop by the store and buy a loaf of artisan bread.

    Chris says: Yes you definitely can cook the sausage and onions the night before.

    CJ's Mom  |  January 10th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

  • I would nominate my Black & Decker Steamer as my 4th essential kitchen tool. We do steamed veggies & rice (separately) CONSTANTLY. For my finicky son who seems to prefer canned veggies, I cut certain vegetables in little bite size pieces, steam them thoroughly and mix with the canned stuff. It works. Oh, and the best part about the steamer is the timer. Set it and it “dings” and shuts off automatically when time’s up. Love it love it LOVE it. And cleanup is easy.

    Paula  |  January 10th, 2008 at 7:03 pm

  • Made the soup tonight for dinner. It was DELISH! Didn’t use the wine. Also, left out noodles AND beans for the kids. Yum.

    Christina  |  January 10th, 2008 at 10:23 pm

  • Your right, there is nothing light freshly baked bread with a hot bowl of soup or with any meal. Yoursoup recipe sounds great!

    Greg  |  January 11th, 2008 at 1:07 am

  • Jen  |  January 11th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  • I am curious do you break up the sausages after taking them out of the casing or do you fry them whole? Sounds delicious and will definitely try this recipe.

    Chris says: I broke them up

    Judith  |  January 12th, 2008 at 12:15 am

  • I tried this recipe this weekend and it was so easy and turned out great! Not only did my kids like it, but my husband, who is a chef and is rarely impressed with my cooking, liked it! It was even better the 2nd day. I’ll definitely make this again.

    Karina  |  January 14th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

  • I tried this recipe tonight and it is now my DH’s new favorite soup and it was well received by my 3 boys. I just added the pasta uncooked about 30 mins before eating and it cooked up great. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try more of your recipes this week.

    Melinda  |  February 2nd, 2008 at 3:35 am

  • In the past 4 days I made this twice and fed it to 10 different people. I actually love to cook and think I’m pretty good soemtimes, but this is the first time my best friend offered to pay me for the leftovers. THANK YOU! We also LOVED the roasted chicken & veggies.

    another Lori  |  February 5th, 2008 at 12:24 am

  • forgot to mention that it’s wonderful with potato gnocchi (but not homemade, I believe in Sandra Lee…) and I tried garbanzo beans the second time around. I also appreciate the fact that I’ll never have to make a special trip to make this, because I always have stuff like this on hand. Thanks again (& sorry for the typo above).

    another Lori  |  February 5th, 2008 at 12:27 am

  • Chris - I’m excited to try this recipe, but am wondering how long you let the soup cook for. Either that direction is missing, or it’s 3:40pm on a Friday and (most likely) my brain is on vacation.

    Chris says: All day? So I’d say 6 hours or so in a crockpot.

    Melissa  |  February 8th, 2008 at 9:38 pm

  • Guess who’s new to crock-potting? How long should I cook this and on what setting? Sounds de-lish, perfect for the cold snowy day we are expecting here in CT tomorrow.

    Pattihoney  |  January 20th, 2012 at 11:37 am