Friday, October 17, 2014

Frozen ~ Hearty Italian Soup


I've been craving comfort food a lot lately. Maybe my body have been reacting to the cooler weather fall brought us... or stress at work. And having an empty refrigerator haven't helped! I know that both my Honey and I have been putting way too many hours working and haven't had time to cook something delicious and satisfying.

So I decided to cook a big batch of a hearty meal and freeze half, so I don't have to face an empty refrigerator next week. And, since fall is a season of hearty soups and, luckily, oversize sweaters, I decided to kick off the season by making a very satisfying, hearty, and spicy Italian Soup I had at a friend's house a few years back. For the recipe, my friend directed me to the Hearty Italian Soup Recipe on MyRecipes.com. The soup is packed with good stuff, delicious, and I know my family will love it. 
I followed the recipe closely. The only ingredient I did not find was the Italian Spice, but I substituted it with Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute and was very happy with the result. Also, being a non-meat eater, I made a small batch for me using the same recipe minus the sausage, and substituted the Chicken Broth with the Veggie broth... Well, I guess, I did not follow the recipe too closely, but it came out delicious and everyone asked for more, so I barely had anything left to freeze. 
Mmm... The sound of frying sausages and smell of caramelized onions quickly filled the kitchen and were truly heart warming. 

When I cook, I like preparing all the ingredients first - wash, chop, or dice. And once that's done, the rest is super easy - just drop them in the bowl and let simmer. 
I would say that prep time took me about 15-20 minutes. Then, while the soup was simmering for about 25 minutes, I washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Then I dropped the spinach, parsley, and basil into the pot and let it boil for another 5 minutes, and voila.
I served the soup with a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese shavings and two slices of the freshly baked Italian bread... and became the rock-star of the house... for a day. 
To freeze the leftovers, I decided to use my always-go-to-multi-purpose mason jar. 
Three things about freezing leftover soup:
1. To prevent the glass jar from breaking after the liquid freezes and expands, do not fill the jar fully. For a quart of liquid, I left about an inch empty at the top.
2. To minimize the bacteria growth in the soup,  cool it down quickly. Putting the jar of soup in a bowl with iced water works best.  
3. Write down the date and content on the jar, even if you think you will remember for sure. 
I work from home a lot now, and this does not mean I can spend my day cooking. And I think that my family and I will be happy if I start freezing yummy dinners. It's time efficient and certainly better than grabbing a takeout. 

I'm sure that one day during the next two weeks, I open the freezer and find there a frozen jar of soup ready to satisfy my cravings and warm my soul. 

xo, Zuma A.


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