When daffodils wave to us as we circle the rotary and I start to get antsy for color in my window boxes, I know spring is coming. I can’t help but get excited for warmer weather and opening blossoms; each year it’s just as exciting as before, like a gift waiting to be opened under a tree. But spring is also a little bit sad, because it means the end of soup season…or at least the end of the time when I won’t look crazy for making soup for every meal that’s not breakfast. I love soup. It’s warm and comforting, but it’s also the pinnacle of
lazy busy mom cooking: cut up some vegetables, throw them in a pot with a little broth and some beans, put a lid on it and walk away; 30 minutes later, dinner is ready. If it wouldn’t make me look weird, I’d admit to making soup all year-round, even in 90 degree weather…but that would seem crazy, so I’m not going to say I do that.
Normally, I don’t buy fake or vegetarian meat. It’s just too processed and far off from actual “food” for me, is too expensve for our grocery budget, and, since part of why I became a vegetarian (nearly 10 years ago) was a dislike of meat’s taste and texture, I don’t really feel like I need meals that attempt to replicate it. There are a few exceptions, like the Celebration Roast we get every Thanksgiving (although that might be more for Chris than me), and this soup might become the next one. I made this soup back in January, and had planned to do so while Chris’ dad was visiting, thinking he might appreciate a little “meat” in the vegetarian food I was cooking. I didn’t end up making it until after he left, so when I did make it I had a lot extra, which I froze and just recently thawed out. (Also one of my favorite things about soup — it’s tastes just as good coming out of the freezer as it did going in.) While I was eating it and loving it for the second time, I decided this recipe was meant to be shared. Chris, our meat-eater, loved it too — although he thought it would be more delicious with real Italian sausage, so you could easily substitute meat in this recipe instead of using the veggie version.
I’m still not going to be a regular buyer of fake meat, but this soup might make me buy it once or twice a winter for a change of pace.
Tomato, Fennel, and “Sausage” Soup
Adapted from the Vegetarian Times
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, divided: 3/4 (about 3 cups) minced and 1/4 (1 cup) rustically diced
- 2 cups vegetarian sausage, sliced*
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 2 Tbs. sherry
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbs. dried parsley
- salt & pepper to taste
- grated Parmesan to garnish
Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add fennel, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in sausages and fennel seeds, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until fennel seeds are slightly softened and bits of sausage are stuck to bottom of pan. Add sherry, and cook 5 to 10 seconds to deglaze pan, scraping up any brown bits. Add broth, tomatoes, and parsley; cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Makes 6 servings
*A note on the “sausage”: The Vegetarian Times recipe called for “vegan Italian sausage.” The only option we had at Stop & Shop (and I didn’t feel like going to look at Annye’s) was MorningStar Farms Veggie Sausage Links. Yes, they are meant for breakfast; yes, I bought them anyway. We couldn’t really tell the difference, although possibly someone who is a fake meat connoisseur could. I used the whole box (8 oz.).