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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Taste The Love

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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Kale

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (3)

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Homemade Croutons

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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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Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

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During the colder months here in Florida, I love making one-pot meals like soups and stews. Chili is definitely one of our favorites. I’ve played around with some recipes and found I like this one the best. It’s easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of prep. The best part is… everything’s done in the slow cooker! This is my Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili.

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Crock Pot

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Cilantro

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: soaking beans overnight
Total  Time:  6 hrs 45 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 7-quart Crockpot, chef’s knife, large mixing bowl, 1 (2-cup) measuring cup

Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 pound of dried Great Northern beans, soaked and rinsed
2 ribs of celery, diced and cut into half-moons, include chopped leafy tops
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (4-ounce) cans of  Hatch green chilies, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 quart of chicken stock, unsalted
1 cup of whole milk
1/4 cup Masa
1 (15-ounce) package of frozen shoepeg corn
2 limes, 1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges for serving
1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated, 1/2 cup reserved for serving
2 avocados, sliced for garnish
Cilantro for garnish
corn tortilla chips for serving

Directions:
The night before, pour 1 pound of dried Great Northern beans into a large mixing bowl. Cover the beans, by 3 inches, with water, cover, and place on the counter. The next day, drain and rinse the beans to remove any excess starch.

Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and Kosher salt. Sprinkle the spices over the chicken. Add the beans, celery, garlic, canned chilies, onions, and diced bell pepper.

Pour in the chicken broth, put the lid on and cook on low until the beans are cooked through, about 6 hrs.

Mix the milk with the Masa in a small bowl then add to the slow cooker. Add the frozen shoepeg corn, straight from the freezer, and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a board and shred using two forks. Return to the slow cooker, then add the lime juice, sprinkle in the Monterey Jack cheese and stir to melt.

To serve: Ladle the chili into a porcelain serving bowl, garnish with extra cheese, cilantro, avocado slices, and a lime wedge. Place a few tortilla chips in or on the side for garnish. This is my Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili. Serve hot.

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Crispy Pork Belly

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Pork Belly seems to be one of the most sought-after cuts of meat. The Iron Chef show is who really brought this cut to the forefront. In restaurants today, it’s become one of the hottest items to order. I mean, once you’ve ordered the Pork Belly, you’ll most likely always order it no matter the style it’s being served. It’s that delicious!  I sometimes think we may be a little slow when it comes to trying new things. Many Asian cuisines, have for many years, implemented Pork Belly into a variety of their dishes.

I have a great and easy way to prepare Crispy Pork Belly at home so it will come out tender, golden, with a crispy top. This recipe doesn’t require scoring the skin in any way. This will allow you to slice it later and it will retain its integrity. I think it’s worth mentioning, that Shaoxing rice wine is available in most Asian markets today.

If you love Asain cuisine and want to make delicious Asian dishes at home, Shaoxing rice wine should be a pantry staple.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 to 12 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 15 minutes
Yields: 10 large pieces
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
2-pound pork belly
1 cup of Kosher salt

Marinade:
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 cloves of minced garlic

Directions:
Using a paper towel, pat the skin of the Pork Belly completely dry. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then pour them into a rectangle style baking dish that’s just big enough to hold the pork belly.

Carefully place the Pork Belly into the baking dish making sure only the meat touches the marinade. The skin on the top must remain completely dry. If the marinade level is too high, then discard any extra by pouring some of it off. Place the baking dish with the pork belly and marinade into the frig for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Completely line a roasting pan with foil. Pour an inch of water into the bottom of the pan. Place a wire rack on top to hold the Pork Belly.

Remove the baking dish with the marinated pork belly from the frig. While the pork belly is still in the baking dish, spread 1 cup of Kosher salt evenly over the fat cap of the pork belly as seen in the pictures above.  Next, transfer the Pork Belly onto the wire rack. The Pork Belly will cook above the water and the drippings will fall into the water.

Note: If one part of the Pork Belly is slightly lower or shorter on one side, use an oven-safe item to prop up that side so the pork will cook evenly. Bake for around 40 minutes.

Adjust oven temperature to 470-degrees F.

Remove the Pork Belly from the oven. The salt should have formed a crust that can easily be removed. Refer to the side by side picture of the Pork Belly with the removed salted fat cap.

Place the Pork Belly back into the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. The skin should be bubbly and crisp.  Using an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 165-degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Crispy Pork Belly is a great appetizer and one I know you’ll make over and over.

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