#5 of 100 Ways to Rock A Store Bought Rotisserie Chicken
Hearty Chicken and Italian Sausage Soup
This rustic chicken and sausage soup is a recipe of mine that has all the flavors of the Italian countryside and has, as it’s inspiration, a far different but equally delicious Provencal vegetable soup recipe by Ina Garten. While a hearty soup, it only takes about an hour or slightly more to put together and is a dish that will prove to be a tremendous timesaver if prepared on a Sunday afternoon and then reheated as a quickly prepared weeknight supper.
There are a couple of ingredients in this soup that some people tend to avoid—mushrooms and tomatoes. But I genuinely believe they both bring transformational components to the soup’s broth that elevate it from a simple and hearty country stew to an epiphany on the palate that defines truly delicious.
Oven roasting the mushrooms takes only a few minutes and I have found that even those people that resolutely voice a diehard aversion to the taste and texture of mushrooms (including my husband, Russ) find the oven-roasted variety brings an intensified, earthy flavor and a far more agreeable mouth feel or chew that can (and in most cases—will) totally override any previous objections to these most glorious fungi.
After thirty minutes in a hot oven, drizzled with a good olive oil and a kiss of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, fresh mushrooms emerge transformed into roasted, flavor-laden wonder. Sporting just the tiniest caramelized and crispy bits about the edges and now literally dripping with that intense earthy flavor—you will find that oven roasted mushrooms will add a depth of flavor to this dish (and innumerable others) that will take this soup from great to glorious! Cross my heart!
And if you’ve ever noticed when making stew or soup that the combined flavors are missing an indefinable “something,” I can almost guarantee that it was a lack of acid or brightness. Without acid—citrus (any, of course, but most frequently lemon juice or zest), vinegar—red wine, white wine, balsamic, or apple cider, mustard, wine (always, always, always a good one that you actually drink) or—yes, you knew it was coming—tomatoes.
In this soup I use tomatoes that I have oven roasted but also offer a great substitute for them with sun-dried tomatoes. My oven roasted version takes three or more hours in a low-heat oven that relegates it’s preparation to “make ahead” and something that should be reserved for a block of time where you can keep an eye on it while doing other things around the house. Whether you find that you have the time to prepare oven roasted or need the timesaving advantages of using sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes will convey that bright, savory underpinning of acid so very necessary for balance in any recipe. Since these are minced—they will deliver on the need for acid as an incognito element that will be indiscernible in all but flavor to any tomato “haters” seated at your table!
I have included my recipe for Oven Roasted Tomatoes following the instructions for the soup as a great way to use up any ripening tomatoes that you may have on hand. I have found that they are a great standby condiment and make a great stir in for mayonnaise or even spaghetti sauces and add a real burst of flavor as a sandwich topping including my “Panini-Style Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Provolone Sandwich.”
As with all soups—the flavor of my “Hearty Chicken and Italian Sausage Soup” only gets richer, deeper and more complex as the broth rests and the flavors meld between reheating. Hearty and robust—but not heavy—this is a soup that literally warms the soul from early fall until late spring. Ladled into bowls sized for hand cupping warmth and then finished with a generous nutty, salty layer of shredded Parmigiana-Reggiano and a spoonful of garlicky and herbaceous basil pesto—it’s perfect after a long day’s fishing, horseback riding at the shore, under a ton of blankets beside a bonfire, inside curled up by your fireplace or even as that first outside supper of spring on your back porch.
There is no better way to embrace the courageous promise of impending spring warmth on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay—or anywhere else friends and family gather—than ladling out bowlfuls of hot, hearty, and lovingly homemade “Hearty Chicken and Italian Sausage Soup!”
Come on in and stay awhile, my friends—soup’s on!
- ½ c. salted butter, melted
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup dry white wine (I use a Pinot Grigio)
- 3 medium red potatoes, skin on and ½ inch diced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup baby carrots, sliced into ¼ inch “coins”
- 1 large sweet onion, ¼ inch diced
- 3 leeks including light green of stems, cut in half lengthwise (opened up and rinsed very well between the stalk layers to ensure no grit) and then into ¼ inch slices
- 1 Tablespoon thyme, chopped
- 1-16 oz. package sliced fresh mushrooms, oven roasted (see recipe below)
- 2-32 oz. packages of chicken broth (or homemade, if you have it)
- ¼ c. sun dried tomatoes (or oven roasted—see recipe below), minced
- 1-16 oz. package of Mild Italian Sausage (bulk or links with casings removed), browned, rough “chopped” with a spoon while cooking and then drained
- Dark meat from one rotisserie chicken, rough chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, snapped or cut into 1-1 ½ inch lengths
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Pesto—Best quality you can find if purchased (ensure that basil is the first ingredient listed) or homemade, if you have it
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 6 qt. or larger dutch oven or stock pot
- Roast the mushrooms
Preheat oven to 400°. Spread sliced mushrooms on a large, rimmed baking tray. Drizzle olive oil—about 2 Tablespoons—on the slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the mushrooms, olive oil,
salt and pepper until well coated. Spread it all out into a single layer and place the tray in the preheated oven on the center rack for about 30 minutes—tossing once at the 15-minute mark to ensure even roasting throughout.
2. Prepare the Soup
In a large Dutch oven or stock pot (6 qts. or larger) over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Stir diced potatoes and baby carrot coins into melted butter and add the two teaspoons of kosher salt. Once simmering, stir in the wine and stir frequently for 10-15 minutes or until edges of the potatoes are slightly transparent. Add the cleaned and sliced leeks, diced onions, and thyme and cook for about 10 more minutes and then add chicken broth.
Keeping the soup at a slow, constant simmer (never reaching boiling)–stir in the roasted mushrooms, browned and drained Italian sausage and chopped dark chicken chunks (the dark meat of the chicken was defined for me as any meat “below the waist” of the chicken when I was 16 (during the 70s) and working an after school job at the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota).
During the intervening years since then, I have learned that the dark meat of poultry not only has more flavor than the white meat, it is also far more suited for stews and soups since it holds together and is less likely to break up and “string” and shred like white meat will do.
About ten minutes before the potatoes are fork tender and the soup is ready to serve, add the cut or snapped fresh green beans to the broth.
Oven Roasted Tomatoes:
Gwyneth Paltrow wrote a cookbook some years ago, “My Father’s Daughter” and amongst the many jewels she included was a little gem of a recipe for what has become a condiment in my kitchen—oven roasted tomatoes.
I have a real thing for Campari, grape and cherry tomatoes—finding them bursting with sun-ripened flavor and providing me with that wonderful summer garden flavor year around. My recipe uses those tomato varieties exclusively and as a result of size, juice and seed differences—I have had to work out my own recipe.
Preheat oven to 250°. Line the bottom of a large, rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. Slice grape tomatoes in half, cherry tomatoes in quarters and larger tomatoes into eighths (quartered tomatoes in half again). Arrange in a single layer on the parchment paper in the baking pan. Drizzle liberally with your best quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Toss with your hands until olive oil and salt are well distributed.
Bake on the center rack of your oven for at least three hours and up to five hours (size of the tomatoes will determine roasting time)—stirring and tossing the tomato pieces every hour—or until juices have caramelized and edges are beginning to crisp and brown.
Cool to room temperature and then store in a tightly covered container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.