MangiaMore: OUR take on Tuscan soup

RER 1.25.13
Ever since stumbling on the Refinery29 detox soup recipes like the Sweet Potato Squash Soup and the Super Green and Bean soup that we tried, I have been soup obsessed. And I am pretty sure that I have said before, that I am not a soup kind of girl. For some reason I have always thought them plain, limp, and not particularly filling. And I'm sure as you have been able to infer, I can eat. But this new breed of soup, this good for you kind of soup, has opened me up to the hundreds of options that the soup staple offers.

JAR 1.25.13
Yes, there have been many occasions that I have had soup, and many times because I had to, soup is what's for dinner. You must be familiar with that, food forced upon you because that's what mom or dad or whoever made, and that is your only option. I have had various bean soups, hearty with pork and meat, as well as corn chowders floating with potatoes and tiny red pepper slices. I have even had hot pumpkin soups, spicy with curry and cooled with sour cream....all at my mother's table.

Maybe I have liked soup all along, because I can not honestly remember not participating in soup dinners. Perhaps my only complaint would be with the skinny ones, the wet ones with no meat and bones. I never believed, and still have a hard time believing that soup on its own can serve as a full meal...unless it is the full package.

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So on this soup binge, I opted for the less cleansing and healthy variety, first introduced to me in London by one of my lovely flatmates. This soup is the Tuscan soup. For the longest I could not remember the name of the soup, and continually called it an Italian Wedding soup (which incidentally has some similar components, mainly meat, broth, and a leafy green). But after foraging through emails around two years old, I found the correct name of the soup I was lusting for, Tuscan soup.

RER 1.25.13
The recipe is easy enough, just browning some hot sausage links with some chopped onion, mixing that goodness with your chicken broth in a large pot, followed by the addition of cubed potatoes (we chose red potatoes). Then allowing the lovely mixture to boil until the potatoes get soft. Throw in the spinach, cook that to wilt. And then adding the evaporated milk once the cooked soup is removed from the heat.

See easy. That is one of the things I have discovered as of late with soups. There is not always a ton of work involved, but the flavor and heartiness achieved is very high. Because I often lean towards heavier, meal like soups, we made some random, yet thought out additions. 

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1.kale I really love the dark leafy super food, and so does my boyfriend, so somehow it manages to find its way onto our dinner plates quite frequently. Sometimes we roast the kale in the oven and add salt and enjoy the crispiness while other times we cook it like collards, slow and long. We had no problem throwing the green into this Tuscan soup in addition to the called for spinach. Spinach and kale, even when lightly cooked have completely different textures. The kale did not wilt and become as soft as the spinach, even though we added it first. Its curly resilience countered the smush of the earthy spinach nicely. It was one of the only things in the soup that had a crunch to it, which in many minds seems contradictory to the connotations of soup. But that crunch was necessary, making some spoonfuls not slurps but something to chew.

RER 1.25.13
2. roman beans To add heartiness, more protein and depth of texture to our interpretation of the soup, we added in a can of rinsed roman beans. These little beans kind of look like white cannellini beans, yet they are doused with a darker red like color. Their flavor is not quite as mild, a little meatier and nuttier, but deffo a great add on to the soup. These beans too added some more fun texture to the already mixed soup. The legumes were smooth and creamy like the boiled potatoes, and their skins added something different to the soup.

RER 1.25.13
Overall the soup was not as delicious as I remember. The combination is a dream; fatty and spicy sausage, luxurious and decadent, like the evaporated milk added at the end; the earthy and thick spinach,very vegetable tasting; the cooked potatoes, soft and smooth, heavy. I love all the elements and components that the soup entails, even our special additions of kale and roman beans, but somehow it fell short. We added salt, pepper, chili powder, some garlic powder, to season the limp broth. The potatoes really did not absorb any flavor,even though they were cooked with the added seasonings, and I think that their blandness was overwhelming, and muted the other ingredients unfortunately. Despite that, I would chow down on this soup again, and even figure out a way to remedy the pitfalls (maybe use stock with some sodium). Cooking is experimentation and in a way self-discovery. I sure learn more about myself every time, what I like and don't like, or what I rather not admit I actually do like (ahem, soup).
RER 1.25.13

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