Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Soup Cook-Off

Every year, my office hosts a Halloween Luncheon that includes a Costume Contest, Pumpking Decorating Contest and Soup Cook-Off with homemade grilled cheese sandwiches (cooked by our CFO). Last year (my first Halloween with the company), I was determined to make a good impression. I made my very first soup from scratch, Roasted Butternut Squash, and walked away with a prize for 2nd place! I can't say the same for my pumpkin or costume, but it didn't matter- I was just thrilled that my first homemade soup attempt wasn't a total disaster.

This year, I spent all month thinking that I would miss the festivities because of being out of the office for a wedding. On Tuesday, I realized that the luncheon was on Thursday (not Friday, as it normally is), and I would, in fact, be here. Blast. Two days to come up with a costume, pumpkin and killer soup recipe. Since my Soup Repretoire consisted only of that One-Hit Wonder from last year's event, I scoured my favorite foodie sites for tips and recipe ideas. I settled on Rachael Ray's Sausage, Pepper and Onion Stoup, which sounded delicious and (more importantly), EASY. I tweaked it a bit (added a few ingredients and adjusted the cooking time) and tested a batch on Husband, who gave his approval ("Yes, but is it CONTEST-WINNING good").

Well, I guess you could say I work well under pressure, because this year I received 1st place for both my pumpkin AND soup! I was shocked. I mean, my pumpkin really was the cutest (is that mean?) but there were many outstanding soups.

This recipe is perfect for the chilly Autumn nights ahead (that I hope and pray will come to Alabama soon). Delicious on its own, it would also be great as a chunky "sauce" over pasta.

Italian Sausage and Roasted Pepper Soup
adapted from Rachael Ray


2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
½ pound bulk hot pork sausage
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced (or 2 tsp. minced garlic from jar)
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 12-oz. jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained well and sliced
2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
2 15-oz cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 6-oz. jar Tomato Paste
½ cup basil leaves, torn
1 ½ cups shredded Parmesan
Salt and Pepper, to taste
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)


1. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in deep skillet.
2. Add sausage and brown about 6-8 minutes, until mostly cooked through.
3. Add garlic, Anaheim peppers, Roasted Red Peppers and onions. Cook until peppers and onions are soft, about 10-12 minutes.
4. Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar.
5. Stir in chicken stock, diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
6. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened to your liking (about 15-20 minutes).
7. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and red pepper flakes (if desired).
8. Stir in basil leaves and half of parmesan cheese.
9. Set bowl of remaining parmesan on table for guests to add on top of soup.
10. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8.

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