soup and sandwich is just alright with me

well summer is definitely 3/4s of the way over. and i hate to say that, but the air has gotten noticeably crisper and it hasn’t broken the mid 70s (and that’s being generous) all week. pretty soon winter will unleash its snowy fury all over us and i’ll be back to grumbling about heavy coats, snow puddles tracked all over the house, and snowboots. heavy, clumsy snowboots. that i have to wear ALL. THE. TIME. for at least 5 months.  unless of course i like falling on my butt on the slippery sidewalks. and i don’t. at all. urgh. the only truly great thing about winter weather, besides the holidays and all the cooking and baking that entails, is soups and stews, and hot, hearty, thick meals that warm you toes-up. meals like the one i put on my weekly menu tonight. i always have at least one meal that i get super excited to make and this one was it this week for me. i cribbed a recipe online for a simple Zuppa Toscana and hand copied one for Italian grilled cheese sandwiches from Cook’s Country. it just sounds perfect for a nippy evening – hot, slightly spicy potato soup and melty cheese on buttery toasted bread? yes please.

Zuppa Toscana
adapted from this site

You Need:

italian sausage, ground or links cut up into smaller pieces
red pepper flakes
onion, chopped
bacon, chopped into small pieces
garlic cloves, minced
chicken stock
potatoes, peeled and cubed (i used plain russets)
salt and pepper
milk (or cream)
swiss chard or kale, cut into strips

in a saucepot, cook your italian sausage with the red pepper flakes in a bit of oil until it is well browned and cooked through. remove to a plate. drain off the excess fat, cook the bacon until it has rendered down (not too crispy). add the onions and garlic to this and cook until the onion is soft. add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. get the potatoes into the pool and lower the heat to simmer, covered, until those are soft. add the greens, cook down for a few minutes, then add the milk. salt and pepper everybody. cook until the greens are wilt-y.

Italian Grilled Cheese
recipe from Cook’s Country magazine

You Need:
sandwich bread or thick slices of italian bread
butter
provolone cheese
pepperoni
tomatoes, sliced
basil, chiffonaded
mozzarella

render the pepperoni until just lightly crisp. set on a paper towel lined plate to blot the rest of the grease off. butter one side of a slice of bread. heat up a pan. place the bread slice on it. layer a slice of provolone on top. layer the tomato, basil, and pepperoni. add some mozzarella on top of that. top with the other slice of bread and cook the sandwiches as you would a regular old grilled cheese, until the bread is browned. mangia!

IMG_0042

cooking music: i’ve been singing Crash Test Dummies “In The Days of the Caveman” in my head all day

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