Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mom's "Italian Chili" and what's coming next

One of the reasons I wanted to make roast chicken was so I'd have plenty of homemade stock. One of the reasons I wanted plenty of homemade stock was so I could make this soup. My mom first made this a few months ago, and apparently it's been a runaway hit at home among my brothers and dad - so I asked her for the recipe. In all fairness, I changed it a fair amount based on what I had on hand and the fact that I'm only one person and she seemingly makes it for an army at a time (3 cans of cannelini beans? 3 cans of tomatoes? yikes!) - and though it'll never taste as good as Mom's, it's definitely inspired by her recipe.

Mama P's "Italian Chili"

1 T olive oil
1/2-3/4lb italian turkey sausage (about 3 sausages), casings removed
1 celery rib, small dice
1 small carrot, small dice
1 small onion, medium dice
1/2 large green bell pepper, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t fennel seed, crushed (in your hand is fine)
1 T dried basil
1 T fresh oregano (or 1 t dried)
1 t cumin
1 T chili powder
1 bay leaf
1 19-oz can cannelini beans
1 24-oz can tomatoes (not diced; I used peeled whole and pureed them in my food processor, but you can use crushed or tomato puree/sauce)
4 cups chicken broth

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, add the oil over medium-low heat and add the sausage to the pot, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage, stirring and breaking up, until fully cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a bowl and reserve. Pour off excess fat from the pan, leaving about 1 T left. Add the celery, carrot, onion, bell pepper and garlic, and season with salt. Let the veggies begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and all the spices and herbs from fennel to chili powder, and cook for another 2 minutes, allowing everything to coat the vegetables and begin to toast and release their oils. Add the bay leaf, cannelini beans, sausage*, tomatoes, and chicken broth, stirring it all to combine, and bring up to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, reduce heat and simmer on low for at least 10 minutes to let all the flavors meld. Taste, and stir in additional salt/chili pepper as necessary.

*Note: Instead of just dumping the sausage back in the pot, I make sure it's well-drained, and then like to finely crumble it with my hands as I add it back into the pot. I can never get it in that small of pieces using the spoon while I cook it, and this way there's more sausage throughout the soup, rather than just select spoonfuls.

Coming your way tomorrow: homemade nut butter and my first authentic (I think!) at-home Indian dish. Get excited! :)

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