Sunday Supper: Zuppa Toscana

Welcome to the first installment of weekly posts called Sunday Supper! Okay– so the title isn’t so original as many-a-blogger have used it before, but you’ve got to admit it’s catchy, and alliterations can do me no wrong. Besides, how else am I supposed to describe the dinners I make every Sunday night?

Yesterday’s Sunday Supper was Zuppa Toscana. This is a soup on the menu of a certain unnamed Italian-American restaurant chain. Is it authentic? Can’t say. But hey, J loves this soup and I managed to find a decent recipe for it many years ago. It’s hearty and filling, and potatoes and bacon and cream? Come on. Served with a crusty loaf of bread, it hits the spot on rainy autumn evenings like last night.

Zuppa Toscana
(Adapted from AllRecipes.com)
Makes 6 servings

6 slices bacon
16 oz smoked sausage, sliced (Italian sausage would work just as well, if not better)
3/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 tbsp chicken soup base or 2 tbsp chicken bouillon powder
4 cups water
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 cups kale, washed, dried, and shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble and set aside. Pour off excess fat (I like to save the fat in a glass jar in the fridge to use in place of butter or oil in other recipes), and add sausage to skillet. Cook sausage until browned, remove from heat, and set aside.

Place onions and garlic in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add chicken soup base, water, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Stir in bacon, sausage, kale, and cream. Continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes; taste broth and add salt and pepper as needed.  Ladle soup into bowls, serve hot, and enjoy!

 

A Birthday Celebration

This past weekend I celebrated a twenty-something birthday with what else?  Food!  I had a few guests over to partake in a feast of appetizers, cocktails, and, of course, dessert!  Below are a few tidbits of what I put together.  First up, a little meat-on-meat action: juicy, bite-sized Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps.  This recipe is sure to win the hearts of the meat-lovers in your life, plus the combination of brown sugar and chili powder is heavenly!

 

 

Next, a vegetarian-pleaser: Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets.  I actually couldn’t find puff pastry shells, so I made my own by thinly rolling out puff pastry sheets, cutting them into squares, and baking them in a muffin pan.  They turned out beautifully, though if you go this route I would suggest placing another muffin pan over the pastry sheets to keep them from puffing up too much!  Then, while they are still hot, push down the middle of each cup with a spoon since they will be prone to puffing up anyway.

 

 

And, of course, there’s always room for dessert, especially for birthdays!  Well, especially for my birthday.  Cake truffles/cake pops/cake balls are becoming increasingly popular, and they are actually quite easy to make– plus the possibilities are endless!  Inspired by this cake ball recipe (be sure to read a few of the reviews for some helpful tips), I used a white cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.  In the end, this combination tasted like a mild chocolate cake, but any combination of cake and frosting is A-OK in my book.  To finish the truffles, I dipped them in melted dark chocolate and topped them with my favorite sprinkles, colorful non-pareils.  It was a sweet end to a delicious meal (and tasted even better the next day)!