Zuppa Toscana

IMG_20131216_181734Loving Zuppa Toscana!

Zuppa Toscana is an Italian favorite in our home.  In fact anytime I’ve ever asked someone what their favorite Italian soup is, this is the one that’s mentioned almost every single time.  Of course when I say mentioned, I mean described.  The problem is, most of the people I’ve asked can remember what it tasted like but can’t ever seem to remember what it’s called.  I usually have to throw the suggestion out to them as they’re describing the contents of the soup before I get a firm and astounding, “YES, THAT’S IT, Zuppa Toscana”!

The origins of this soup are unknown to me.  Yes it’s Italian, at least as far as I know, but the truth is I don’t do enough research sometimes to deliver that kind of information.  All I want to know is that I’m making it close enough to the original and that people love it!  I love cooking, I love eating and I most certainly love authenticity.  What I don’t love is homework and history.  Some things intrigue me, yes, BUT I have a ton of other things I want to accomplish in my day, if you know what I mean.  Just give me the recipe and let’s eat already, right?  Of course right!  Here is my Zuppa Toscana recipe.

Zuppa Toscana Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage
2 large Russet Potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits
2 garlic cloves minced
2 cups kale
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp Italian Seasoning

Directions

1) Brown the sausage in a skillet
2) Warm the chicken stock in a pan more than twice the volume of the stock amount.
3) Cut and prepare all the vegetables.
4) Add all of the vegetables and cooked sausage to the stock.
5) Add the heavy whipping cream and seasoning.
6) Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, then cook for for 20 min.
7) Add the bacon, then serve.

Tip: If you don’t want the Kale to be soggy and you want it to have more texture with more nutrients, don’t add it until you are half way through the simmer cooking time.  Please watch the video below for a play by play instructional narration and visual, how to make Zuppa Toscana.

Blue Crab and Shrimp Gumbo Recipes

Gumbo RecipesThe Ugly Truth about Shrimp Gumbo Recipes

I’m not even going to lie about these Blue Crab and Shrimp Gumbo Recipes because I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I was making it.  I sought out the locals and some of my coworkers to get their take on preparation because I wasn’t raised around it and I had only had Gumbo one time before I moved to South Texas.  What I did know how ever is that I fell in love with it the very first and only time that I had tried it, so I decided when I moved to South East Texas that it was time to learn more about it.  I followed the ideas of a recipe that Emeril Lagasse had a 5 star rating on that even he wasn’t responsible for.  In fact the recipe he provided was originally a Chorizo and Seafood Gumbo that was written by someone else.  Then I not only cut the recipe in half but added a few extra personal taste ingredients that ended up working really well.  So well in fact my wife ate the left overs for almost every meal for the next two days after I made it.  So I definitely lucked out with this one and knocked it out of the park once again.

Shrimp Gumbo Recipes

1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 cups chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 lbs. smoked sausage, finely chopped,

Creole seasoning
1 quarts shrimp stock,  (chicken stock is what I used)
1 cup clam juice
1/2 dozen frozen gumbo crabs, thawed
2 pounds peeled shrimp
2 pounds Louisiana Crawfish tails
2 tablespoons chopped green onions or scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
6 cups cooked long grain white rice
Louisiana File Powder

Directions for Shrimp Gumbo Recipes

In a large, heavy pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the oil and flour.  Stirring slowly and constantly, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate, 20 to 25 minutes.  Add the chopped onions, bell peppers, chopped celery, and 1/2 pound chopped sausage.  Season with Creole seasoning. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the stock and gumbo crabs, stir until the roux mixture and broth are well combined.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 2 hours. Meanwhile, season the remaining seafood with Creole seasoning. Add the seafood and remaining sliced sausage to the gumbo. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before skimming off the fat that has risen to the surface.  Taste for seasonings and adjust. Stir in the green onions and parsley and serve the Shrimp Gumbo in individual soup  or gumbo bowls with the rice and pass the file powder at the table.  This concludes this version of the Blue Crab and Shrimp Gumbo Recipes.

Recipe for French Onion Soup

Recipe for French Onion SoupMaking a perfect Recipe for French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is by far one of my favorite soups, and I’m always disappointed if it’s not on the menu. So I decided to tear into this recipe, perfect it and make it my own! So here you have it; My Recipe for French Onion Soup

Understanding my Recipe for French Onion Soup

There are a few basics that can be substituted that won’t effect the over all taste if you have one or the other. First is the stock. I’ve made this with Swansons premade beef bouillon and I’ve made it from scratch with water and powder. If you’re insane and want to boil down some beef bones for 3 plus hours just to get a genuine beef stock, be my guest, but I’m telling you the latter tastes just as good. The second thing is the onions; just choose your favorite onion, white or yellow it doesn’t matter, which ever you prefer; use both even. I had a Recipe for French Onion Soup in Denver that claimed to have 5 different onions in it before, so get creative. Also make sure you hit the liquor store or grocery and pick out a red wine you can cook with. The rule of thumb when you are cooking with wine is to never use anything you wouldn’t drink. Can you make this Recipe for French Onion Soup with out it? Yes, but if you knew what the finished product tastes like with it vs. without, you would undoubtedly regret it. So let’s get started!

The actual Recipe for French Onion Soup

1 cube of butter salted (or unsalted, but this recipe has no additional salt added)
2 large sliced yellow or white onion (or more if you’d like)
1 stock of chopped scallions
1 1/2 qt. Beef stock or bouillon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced garlic (or 2 fresh garlic cloves)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, oregano, basil)
2 tbsp flour
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup red wine (Merlot is good)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Sliced Swiss cheese
Garlic Texas toast (pre-made in any grocery freezer section) or french bread

Okay, this is simple! You need a pot for the soup, and a pan to saute onions. First get the broth going in the soup pan with medium heat; add the garlic, the bay leaves, Italian seasoning and the chopped scallions. Meanwhile saute the onions with a medium high heat starting with the whole cube of butter. Be sure to not let the butter burn; lift the pan off the heat if it’s getting to hot and reduce the stove to medium. You’re onions should be sliced in long lengths, NOT chopped. Add the onions to the butter and saute for 15 to 20 minutes until it starts to caramelize. Adding the sugar will speed up the caramelizing process so add 1 tsp. Once the onions have caramelized add 2 tbls of flour to the onions and stir evenly. Then add the onions to the beef broth as well as the 1/3 cup of red wine. The final touch is adding the pepper and reducing the heat to a simmer. Let the soup stand and marinate for another 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the bay leaves. Meanwhile prep the Texas Garlic Toast (or French bread) in the oven on a sheet or even in a toaster if you only need a few. Serving is now as easy as a ladle full of soup over the top of the the Texas toast and Swiss cheese. If you want to take it a step further, you can throw the bowl of soup with the toast and cheese under the broiler to add that golden brown crispness to the cheese which traditionally is usually done. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t any French Onion Campbells soup recipes, so I hope you enjoy this little gem; my Recipe for French Onion Soup!