This recipe has all of the usual vegetables (except squash) found in vegetable soups with the interesting addition of pearl barley and Italian sausage. I have to admit that my first reaction to reading “1 pound mild Italian sausage” was Yuck! Italian sausage and vegetable soup are not something that go together well.
For some reason, I kept going back to it and finally bookmarked it when I got tired of following links to find it. One crisp autumn day when I knew that I would be outside most of the afternoon, soup seemed like the perfect dish to chase away the chill. I decided to try this recipe.
Making it was simple. Even though I forgot to buy the spinach, the end result was delicious. The perfect antidote to a damp, chilly day. It is one of those rare dishes that is just as good the first day as it is the second day. In spite of my initial aversion, the Italian sausage was the perfect complement to the vegetables and barley. I didn’t drain the sausage enough before adding it to the soup because the next day, there was a thick layer of fat on the soup when I took it out of the fridge. I scraped it off before reheating. That got me thinking that I needed to find a low fat alternative to the sausage. Why not turkey?
Specifically leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Instead of my usual pot pies, I would make this healthy soup and substitute turkey for the sausage. This time, the soup was very, very bland. I realized that the seasoning in the sausage had transferred to the soup, giving it loads of flavor. To make a turkey version, I need to add more seasoning than just salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
Verdict: Yum!! This one’s a keeper!!
(source: Pinch My Salt)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 pound red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
5-6 cups chicken stock (homemade, or low-sodium broth)
½ cup pearl barley
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 large bunch of spinach, thick stems removed, roughly chopped (about 4 cups packed)
Salt, to taste
Herbs or seasoning of your choice – I used some fresh thyme
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until onions are softened. Add potatoes, 5 cups of stock, and barley. Turn up heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until barley is tender. Meanwhile, squeeze sausage from its casings, crumble and brown it in a skillet. Drain fat and set the sausage aside. When barley is tender, add spinach and sausage to the soup and fresh herbs if you are using them. Add more stock if necessary or desired, bring soup back up to a simmer and let cook for another 15 minutes. Season to taste with and pepper.
Recycle: olive oil bottle
Compost: onion skins, celery leaves, spinach stems