Why Hash Browns? Because I'm lazy!

I had some friends coming over for cocktails and a light dinner last night and, frankly, I was not up to a big meal production. It was a last minute invite to thank them for some help and a bit of a farewell as they are moving back to California tomorrow. (Sniff, Sniff).  At this time of year I'm really busy with all my online stores & businesses and I don't have a lot of time to cook but I had some spicy Italian sausage and I thought I would do a variation on my Tuscan Soup ripoff recipe from The Olive Garden that I love so much.

Unfortunately, I didn't have kale, I didn't have any bacon and I didn't feel like peeling and dicing potatoes!  What I did have in my fridge was frozen broccoli pieces (accidentally picked up instead of florets), mire poix and - thank you food fairies! - a package of shredded hash browns I keep on hand for a quick breakfast! Hallelujah!

So I threw together this soup and the guys loved it so much they had seconds, so did I, and I only had enough left for a bowl at lunch!

Here's the recipe:

 1 Lb. of  Bulk Spicy Italian Sausage
1 - 20 Oz. Package of Shredded Hash Browns
(Next time I'm using 2 packages - I like potatoes!)
1 - 12 Oz. Package of Frozen Broccoli
2 Large Onions, Diced
1 Cup Mini Carrots, Sliced in Half
4 Stalks of Celery, Sliced 
Olive Oil
12 Cups Water
4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1 Tsp. Pollen Ranch Chef Bernard's Blend Fennel Pollen
Fresh Chives for Garnish
Salt & Pepper To Taste

  • Brown the sausage in olive oil on medium heat in a medium soup pot until the it gets a nice, caramelized crust on it.
  • Remove the sausage and drain on a paper towel, then place in the fridge but LEAVE IN all those nice little bits of sausage and the fat in your pot! These will add lots of rich flavor to the base of your broth!
  • Add a little more olive oil to the pot then toss in the onions, celery and carrots (mire poix) and sweat them on low-medium heat until translucent - usually about 20 minute to half an hour depending on the size of the pieces.
  • Remove half the mire poix and set aside with the sausage for later.
  • Add the crushed garlic and cook for an extra minute or so to bring out the garlic.
  • Pour in 10 cups of water, reserving the other 2 to add as needed.
  • Add your spices and bring this all to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to lo and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours.  I did mine for 4 hours, adding more water as needed. What you're doing here is creating a broth for your soup and broth takes a little time to develop it's flavors!
  • 1 hour before serving pull out the cooked veggies with a large slotted spoon (you can toss these) then put in the other veggies from the fridge.
  • Add the frozen broccoli and simmer for 1/2 an hour, then add the hash browns and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour to an hour, checking the potatoes and broccoli for tenderness.
  • Keep on lo until ready to serve then dish up & sprinkle on some fresh chives
I served this up with some whole wheat crackers because I didn't have any great, crusty loaves of bread which would have been my preferred side!  No one seemed to care, they crumbled in the crackers and scarfed up nearly the whole pot of soup! I wish I'd made a bigger pot!

If you like a creamy soup you can add some half & half at the same time as you add the second group of veggies or just top off the soup in the bowls with some sour cream!

P. S. I also served up my newest Pumpkin Cream Pie Martini for dessert. You can find it over at The Martini Diva Blog this morning.

 ENJOY & Let me know how you like it!

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