Meaty Minestrone Soup (Gluten Free)

Minestrone

1993

I laid there in my bed listening to the rain drum down on the farmhouse metal roof. The noise a constant low vibration with water dribbles making their way down the gutters. My room sat above the family room and every night I could here Dad thunk his recliner foot-rest into the chair and walk to the kitchen for his ice cream bed-time snack.

The savory air from dinner still hung in the air. It was full-on Autumn and the temperatures where plummeting. They were even calling for snow on Halloween this year. 

2014

The pond beyond my backyard is rippling with rain drops and the leaves are disappearing from the trees with help of the stiff breeze. My baby girl is singing in her bed, determined out out-wit nap time. My son is crunching away on his after school popcorn snack. I wonder if his second loose tooth will make it through the day or if a Golden Dollar will make it’s way under his pillow tonight. It is full-on Autumn and the temperatures are plummeting. They are even calling for snow. It’s Halloween. Time for some warm soup.

Meaty Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound hot sausage, removed from casings
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 can green beans (reserve liquid)
1 can hot and spicy chili beans (check label for gluten)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
2 cups water
2 cups gluten free pasta or prepared rice, cooked per package directions.

Preparation:
• In a large dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat, brown spicy sausage until no longer pink, drain if needed, add onions and cook until softened.
• Add carrots, zucchini and celery. Stir to combine.
• Add (including all liquid) green beans, chili beans, diced tomatoes, beef stock and water.
• Stir and bring to a boil over high heat.
• Turn heat down to simmer and cook for three hours, stirring occasionally.
• Serve in individual bowls topped with cooked pasta or rice. (Do not add pasta to soup until serving.)

• Notes:
This soup is spicy, but for an extra kick use spicy or Italian green beans and/or spicy tomatoes.

Perfect for the slow cooker! Brown sausage and soften the onions. Add to crock pot with all other ingredients. Set crock pot on High for 4-6 hours.

Sweet Potato, Apple, Cranberry. Perfect Trifecta.

Sweet Potato Side2

Because I have an undying love for apples, I have decided to continue the trend and share another recipe featuring these autumn beauties. 

The other day I was talking with a friend and she mentioned how overwhelming it can be in the produce department with all the new apple varieties. “What ever happened to Yellow Delicious, Red Delicious and Granny Smith?” While I agree that it can be confusing, please remember that in general, apples are apples. I know, I know. I am about to be burned at the stake by foodies near and far. But, I really do think that some of us (even me, on occasion) get hung up on the small stuff. This is the time of year apples are cheap, so if you haven’t heard of that-variety-over-there before, pick one out, take it home and give it a taste. Is it sweet? Sour? Bitter? Crunchy? Soft? Most importantly, do you honestly like it?

My friend listened to my answer, smiled, then asked if I could just help her skip to the end of the process and tell her what to buy. I figured she is not alone, so I put together this list to help.

 There are over 7,500 apple varieties.

I have scavenged my local grocery stores and listed the most widely available here in the mid-west.

* Indicates variety can be used for either baking or sauce, but they appear in the category where they perform the best.

Baking Apples

*Braeburn, *Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Melrose, Mutsu, Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Rhode Island Greening, Rome Beauty, *Winesap

Sauce Apples

Gravenstein, Ida Red, *Jonamac, *Jonathan, Liberty, *Maiden Blush, McIntosh, *Newtown Pippin (should be cold-stored for 1-2 months before eaten to reduce bitterness), *Snow

AND NOW FOR THE RECIPE…

Sweet Potato Side

Sweet Potato, Apples & Cranberries

Makes 4 (small) servings

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bit-sized pieces
1 medium granny smith apple, cored, peeled, and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

(sugar and cinnamon for dusting)

Preparation A:
• Mix all ingredients together.
• Place in a Ziploc brand steamer bag and seal.
• Microwave on high for 8-9 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
• Allow bag to stand for 1 minute before pour contents into a serving dish.

Dust with sugar and cinnamon to taste.

OR

Preparation B:
• Mix all ingredients together.
• Place in sauce pan and add 1/4 cup water. Cover.
• Steam over medium heat for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
• Remove from heat and let stand for 1 minute before transferring to a serving dish.

Dust with sugar and cinnamon to taste.