Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons

Tuscan Soup With Parrmesan Croutons

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This soup is one you’ll have to try, it’s my Updated-Tuscan Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons.

Filled with chicken sausage, potatoes, and kale, and topped with homemade croutons. I decided to make a lighter version, instead of pork sausage, I’m using chicken sausage here but, turkey sausage would be just as delicious. The heavy cream added just at the end gives a touch of silkiness to the soup.

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Below is a picture of Tuscan Soup With Homemade Croutons by my daughter, Melissa. She made it her own by using an Italian-style vegan sausage and substituted spinach for the kale.

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Let’s start with the potatoes.

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven, large mixing bowl, 6-quart stockpot, Serrated knife

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds chicken sausage (substitute pork or turkey), casings removed
6 large red potatoes, sliced thin, then cut into half-moons (as seen above)
2 bunches of organic kale, chopped (8 to 10 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package of frozen yellow corn, drained and thawed
1 yellow onion, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-quarts chicken broth, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Prepare the Potatoes:
In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the sliced potatoes. Par-boil sliced potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking prep all the veggies.

In a 6-quart Dutch oven, over medium heat, add olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and fresh rosemary, cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add diced onions and diced red bell peppers, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook and continue stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

To the pot, add the chicken sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage. Next, add the dried thyme. Cook sausage until brown, about 15 minutes. Chicken sausage is lean so there is no fat to drain.

Still, on medium heat, add the pre-washed chopped Kale in batches. Once the first batch goes into the pot, stir and combine until wilted. Add the second batch and repeat the process. Add the sliced potatoes, chicken broth, and corn. Stir to combine. Cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low, add the heavy cream, stir and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Cover to keep hot. There you have it my Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons.

Click the link below for my recipe for Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Zuppa Toscana

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Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash With Italian Sausage And Pears

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My favorite part of any stuffing is the crunchy and caramelized topping that occurs in the last minutes of cooking. How the croutons become golden brown, the pears release their sugars and glisten from that slight char along with the crunchy exterior of the sweet Italian sausage. Yet inside, the stuffing is soft and flavorful. What I’m describing is my Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash With Italian Sausage And Pears.

Let me start by showing you how roasting winter squashes brings out their flavor. Then I’m going to go a step further and fill them with savory sausage and sweet pears.

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) non-stick sauté pan, 4 rimmed baking sheet pans, chef’s knife, small mixing bowl, whisk, pastry brush

Ingredients:
4 acorn squash, seeded and tops and bottoms cut
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 stick of butter, unsalted, melted
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

Ingredients:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed
1 sprig plus 1 tablespoon of fresh sage leaves, julienned
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 diced Bosc pears
1 diced zucchini
6 cremini mushrooms, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of chili powder
3 heaping cups of homemade croutons, (Ciabatta bread), 1 /1/2 inch bread cubes
1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
Bib (Boston lettuce) lettuce and fresh sage for garnish

Directions For The Homemade Croutons:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by cutting the tops off the 4 squash. Next, clean the seeds out of the inside. Then cut a thin slice off the bottom of each one so they will sit upright on the baking sheets. Place 2 on each sheet tray. On the inside of each acorn squash add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until fork-tender. In a small mixing bowl with melted butter add chili powder and brown sugar, whisk to combine. Brush the inside of each squash with the flavored butter mixture and return to the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the squash for the last few minutes of cooking. You don’t want them to burn. Remove the squash from the oven, Set aside.

In a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat (no oil needed) add the skinless sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon, start breaking up the sausage. Cook the sausage for 15 minutes until brown, crumbly, and there is no pink. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel allowing the fat to drain, set aside.

Tip: Take a paper towel and wipe out the sauté pan. No reason to dirty another pan.

Using the same sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter, olive oil, and chopped sage leaves. Once the sage becomes fragrant add the diced cremini mushrooms, zucchini, celery, onions, Bosc pears, minced garlic, chili powder, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Once the veggies start to soften, then add in the diced pears. Stir and continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cooked sausage back to the pan, stir to combine. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Tip: It’s important that all the veggies are relatively cut the same size ensuring they’ll cook at the same time.

At this point, add the sausage and vegetable mixture to the bowl with the croutons. Add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, gently toss to combine.

Fill each of the squash with the filling. Any extra filling place into an oven-safe baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top of each one and place back into the oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the tops become golden brown and caramelized.

First, place the leafy greens on the plate. Arrange the Roasted Acorn Squash Filled With Italian Sausage And Pears on top, garnish with a sprig of fresh sage. Serve hot.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

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There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread bought from my local bakery. Ciabatta bread is my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right into the bread.

Let me say this if you love good bread, and you’ve made homemade croutons then you know what I’m talking about.

These are a few of my recipes where I’ve added Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

My Tuscan Soup, Rotisserie Chicken Soup, French Onion Soup, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Panzanella Salad With A Twist, and finally, my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.

I think in the future I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another variety of  Ciabatta bread. They are just so many recipes that start out with great Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Let me show you two techniques I use when making croutons. One is the stovetop method, the other is the oven-bake method.

Rotisserie-Chicken-Salad

Stuffed-Acon-Squash

French-Onion-Soup

Panzanella Salad (2)

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Parsley And Parmesan Croutons

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Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minute
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 cups of croutons

Ingredients For Stove Top Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Ingredients For Oven Bake Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Directions For Stove Top Method:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes making sure not to overcrowd the bread cubes and that they’re in a single layer in the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes around so they absorb the butter and olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown, on the first side, then toss them again until brown all sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While the croutons are nice and hot add freshly chopped herbs and/or grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons

French Onion Soup With Mini-Meatballs

Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash With Italian Sausage And Pears

Panzanella Salad

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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