Giada Sausage Stew

I have been expanding my horizons when it comes to stew. I use to just think of it as some chunks of beef, carrots, and potatoes. Not that there is anything wrong with a good beef stew, but there is a world of options out there that go beyond those 3 ingredients. The last two Christmas Eves we have served a slow cooked pork stew with sausage and pork shoulder. I enjoy the taste of sausage in stew. The texture is really satisfying.

Before every weekend I check to see what new episodes of Food Network shows will be airing and what recipes will be featured. I saw a recipe from Giada for a sausage stew that contains cannellini beans, tomatoes, onion, kale and fennel. Food Network usually posts the recipes before the shows. I like the chance to review the recipes for you my readers before the show airs. I made this stew on Thursday night. Below you will my notes from this recipe including some ways to save money on this recipe. Visit Food Network’s website to PRINT the recipe.


1. The recipe calls for turkey or chicken Italian sausage. I got pork because it was on sale, and to save a little money I used 3 sausages instead of 4.

2. A tip of buying the fennel some stores, like Whole Foods Market, will allow you to chop off the top of the fennel. Another way to save a little bit of money.

3. For the kale, I select Lacinato or Dino kale. I think it’s easier to chop up since it lays more flat. Depending on the store that price should be the same as the green curly kale, but some stores do charge more for it, so check your prices.

4. Normally I don’t recommend buying canned goods. In the winter a good tomato is hard to find. The canned tomatoes taste better. Giada calls for diced tomatoes. I personally do not like chunks of tomatoes, I want something more smooth. I got crushed tomatoes instead.

5. I prefer using dried beans over canned. You get more bang for your buck, you just have to take the time to soak them before hand. Whole Foods was out of dried Cannellini beans, so I had to buy a can for 89 cents. You could use any white bean in this recipe, navy or Great Northern. Cannellini beans have a better flavor and texture. I actually planted dried Cannellini beans last year in my garden.

6. You use either chicken stock or broth. There is a difference as broth is made from the meat, while broth is made from bones that are broken down in water. I pick stock. As the bones break down they release calcium. They also release gelatin which gives the liquid more body.


1. Definitely a cast iron recipe, using both a dutch oven and a grill pan. The dutch oven is great for browning the fennel and onion as it doses out heat evenly and you can stick it in the oven. I use a Lodge Dutch Oven. Nothing fancy. Gets the job done. A cast iron grill pan is a wonderful tool to have when the thermometer is too low for grilling outside. Again I turn to Lodge for that as well.

2. In preparing the kale, I remove the center rib, by folding the kale over and running my knife along the rib.

3. Since I used crushed tomatoes, I ended up adding more chicken stock, so that the tomato flavor wasn’t too rich. Even thought I had added more liquid the “chunks to liquid ratio” was still perfectly fine.

4. The kale was perfectly cooked in the Dutch oven after 25 minutes.

5. The time on grilling the sausage depends on how thick your sausage is. My sausage was thick was getting perfectly seared on the outside, but not quite done in the middle. When I chopped it up, I decided to throw it into the stew and cook the stew for an additional 5 minutes, which was all it needed to be perfectly cooked.


Very tasty stew, lots of different textures to enjoy. My wife said this is the BEST way I have ever served kale! I did not have any red pepper flakes on hand to add to the stew. It did needed some heat. You have the sweetness of the tomatoes and the fennel and onions sweeten during the opening sauteeing. Use red pepper flakes if you have them, I liked using freshly ground black pepper and a touch of hot paprika. You could also use cayenne. It really needs the spice. This is a dish I would make again whenever I find Italian sausage on sale.


Asparagus Ends Soup

If there is one thing I hate it is wasting food. Anytime you waste food is like emptying your wallet into the trash. Often with produce you have parts of the fruit or vegetable you are not going to eat. I will never eat an apple core or the peel of an orange or outer layers of an onion. What about the ends of asparagus? Those woody ends that either end up in the trash or at least hopefully in your compost pile. Is there a better fate for them? Should I try to choke them down? I think they are definitely usable in a way that is delicious and will keep you from spending an hour flossing asparagus strains out of your teeth. Make soup.

Asparagus Ends for Stock

This past week I saved up about 40 or so ends from 2 bunches of asparagus I purchased. Then got out pot, covered them completely with water and boiled them until they were the mush you see in the picture below. I also had another secret ingredient up my sleeve. In the theme of using discarded “waste” I threw a couple rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I got at Whole Foods on the cheap. This would infuse the flavor of the cheese into the stock.

Asparagus Ends Soup (Stock)

While it may not look pretty or tasty, the liquid that was left behind after I turned the ends into mush only a baby could appreciate was a flavorful asparagus stock that was little green in color.

Asparagus Ends Soup (Strained Stock)

Once the stock was made, I cooked about 3 peeled and sliced Russet potatoes. Although I wish I had some Yukon Gold on hand as I like their butteriness (it’s my word!) in soups. All that was left was to season and cook the potatoes until done. As for the seasoning I used kosher salt and freshly ground Grains of Paradise or alligator pepper. Grains of Paradise has a more mild, sweet bite than your standard black pepper. I really like it in soups. You could also use white pepper or maybe some smoked peppercorns to add a bit of smokey flavor to the soup. I pulled out my immersion blender to blend it up but not without leaving some chunks of potatoes. If you like serve it with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. My 5-year daughter loved the soup and she doesn’t like asparagus.

Asparagus Ends Soup
  • 30-40 asparagus ends (about 2 inches a piece)
  • 3-4 medium sized Russset potatoes or 4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place asparagus ends and Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds into a pot. Cover with at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the asparagus can be mashed with a potato masher about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Strain out the ends and rinds through a mesh strainer.
  4. Add the potatoes. Bring back to a boil. Then simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Blend with an immersion blender until completely smooth or leave some chunks.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.



Dublin Coddle

For St. Patrick’s Day this year I wanted to make an authentic Irish dish. Something they would actually eat in Ireland. Sorry to burst your bubble – corned beef and cabbage is Irish-American, but not Irish (learn more: Why Do We Eat Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day).

The main reason corned beef became a stable of St. Patrick’s Day was the ease of finding beef and not the more traditional Irish back bacon. But now this piece of meat or something similar to it can be found in grocery stores. Pea meal bacon is a type of bacon cut from boneless pork loin that is cured and rolled in yellow cornmeal (it use to be rolled in dried, ground yellow peas hence the name). I decided to use this piece of meat along with some Irish sausages or bangers to make an authentic Irish dish called a Dublin Coddle.

The word Coddle refers to a process of cooking food in a liquid just below a boil – a.k.a simmering. Sausage and bacon rashers along with potatoes and onions are cooked in a broth or stock. I will show you how I made this dish.

Making Vegetable Stock

A Coddle is not meant to be something where a lot of spices and herbs are added. So you need to make all the flavors count. It starts with the cooking liquid. I started off making my own vegetable stock. No recipe here just grab the pot you are going to cook the coddle in and throw in some vegetables. I finished up a bag of carrots I had in the bottom of my fridge along with 4-5 stalks of celery. I then hit the pantry up and found some onions that had no used in a while and were now sprouting quite a bit. Instead of being wasteful I cut the tops off and uses them as green onions. Then I threw in a handful of whole black peppercorn and poured water into the pot to cover all the veggies. The only thing I would have added if I had any one hand were some bay leaves. Then I brought the pot to a boil, then to a simmer with the lid on and cooked for about 90 mintues. Then just strained everything out and my stock was ready for the Coddle.

Irish Sausage (Bangers)

For the sausage portion of this dish I decided to try out the Irish Bangers I found at Trader Joe’s. The package says it contains 5% Rusk. What is the world is rusk (is what I said and you might be saying right now). Rusk is bread crumbs made from unleavened bread. It is suppose to give the sausage a better texture than using regular breadcrumbs as filler. I felt it gave the sausage a pillow-like texture that was very pleasing on the tongue. I browned the sausage in a frying pan before adding it to the Coddle.

Peameal Bacon

I found Peameal bacon at the Hiller’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan for $4.99/pound. I had them cut off for me a 1 pound piece and then I sliced the bacon myself at home. I also browned it in a pan first. It definitely looked a lot like Canadian bacon, esepcially after browning it.

Putting the Dish Together
Before adding the meat to the pot, we sliced it into bite sized pieces. Add some peeled and diced potatoes and carrots. Then salt, pepper, and about an hour of simmering. I decided to add some shredded cabbage that I boiled for a couple minutes. I think this addition is what the dish really needed to be complete. It gave it another layer, another texture to go along with the pillow-like sausage, the firm peameal bacon, the starchy potatoes, and the soft carrots. Everything well balanced and working together. This is why Dublin Coddle is a classic Irish comfort dish, it’s just comforting to eat.

Dublin Coddle
Cuisine: Irish
  • 1 quart vegetable stock or broth (homemade if possible)
  • 1 lb pea meal bacon, sliced
  • 1 lb Irish style bangers or sausage
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, cut on the bias
  • 4 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • cooking oil (I use grape seed)
  • ½ head cabbage, shredded (optional)
  1. Bring an oiled frying pan to medium high heat. Add the sausage, Flip until browned on each side. Then add the bacon and brown each side.
  2. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces.
  3. Add the vegetable stock to a large pot along with the meat, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.
  4. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. Add shredded cabbage when serving (optional)



Phew- I kind of fell off the wagon last week, but I’m back on!

Today the kids ate:

Grace and Faithy- Three Sisters Sweet Wheat cereal, milk
Little Guy- Banana spears and puffed brown rice

Grace and Faithy- Ground turkey soup (see recipe below), sliced strawberries, sliced baby gouda cheese
Little Guy- Quinoa and ground turkey, blueberry yogurt

Grace and Faithy- Brown rice and quinoa mix, sauteed boneless chicken thigh cut into bite sized pieces, green beans (Faithy ate 1 bite of rice, that was all.)
Little Guy- Diced pears, diced baby gouda cheese

Hiding Ground Turkey in a Delicious Soup

Our precious little Faithy never (OK, maybe once or twice) chooses to eat any sort of meat. Not even …gasp…hot dogs! Even so, we have found a way to sneak it into her without her noticing too much. This recipe came about on accident. It was late, there was no dinner planned, and the kids were starving. All I could find in the fridge was 2 leftover turkey meatballs from the night before. Neither of the girls ate them, but I still was determined to get them to try again. I decided to shred the turkey meatballs up into tiny bits so small that they wouldn’t notice them in a soup full of fun shaped pasta and yummy turkey stock. It worked! Faithy gobbled up her bowl and asked for more, I was so excited! Here’s the recipe:

Ground Turkey and Pasta Soup
6 kid-sized servings
A great way to entice your child to eat meat and include some delicious ingredients that you know they'll love!
  • ¼lbGround Turkey
  • 8oz Whole Wheat Mini-pasta (such as stars, ABC's or Farfarle)
  • 2C Turkey or Chicken Stock
  • 1C Water
  • 1 Carrot, grated
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring the turkey stock and water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
  3. While pasta is cooking,season the turkey with salt and pepper, and brown in a non-stick pan.
  4. Add the turkey and grated carrot to the pot and stir.
  5. Cook soup for 5 minutes at a simmer.
  6. Serve!



Ina Garten's Beef Barley Soup

I think often people only think of beef, when they hear the words barley. While barley has many uses, I am definitely all for the beef and barley combo. I have made this kind of soup before, but I am always open to new techniques and recipes. So after an episode of the Barefoot Contessa aired this past weekend, I decided to give Ina’s Rich Beef Barley Soup a go. In this episode, Ina visits a fire station planning to serve them a meal right after their fire drill. Along with the soup she also makes sloppy joes, caramel pecan sundaes, and stilton dressing.

This soup is a bit different than you might be use to. She uses oxtails and beef stock to make a rich tasting soup. Oxtails don’t have a lot of meat on them, but they do have a lot of flavor. At the end I found the meat to be too tough to actually shred for serving in the soup.

Here are my notes from this recipe. You can print off the recipe at Food Network’s website.

1. I picked up some oxtails at the store for $3.99/lb. I was hoping for a bit cheaper but I wasn’t going to spend the extra gas to go out of my way.

2. I used my Lodge Dutch Oven to make this soup. It’s a great tool for browning meat and cooking soup in.

3. She recommends canned beef stock but I would never use canned. Too salty and the quality is poor. You are better off buying the stock in a carton, using a beef base, or using homemade.

4. I really like that she uses leeks. Leeks are overlooked. I think they have a better flavor than onions (which I know is also in the recipe, but I omitted them)

5. Give your vegetables the amount of time they need to start browning. This will increase their flavor and the overall flavor of the finished product.

6. Unfortunately I was out of bay leaves, but I did have some fresh thyme. I just threw the leaves into the pot without tying them.

7. Ina cooked the barley in a separate pot. I thought this was a waste of energy and pots. I just added them half way through cooking the soup. This also gave them a chance to take on some of the flavor of the liquid.

8. Since I was planning on eating for my meals at work this week, I refrigerate the soup when done overnight. This also give a chance for all the fat to rise to the top, so I could remove them more easily. Plus I always think beef soups taste better the next day!


Spaghetti Squash Chicken Soup

Chicken noodle soup – the ultimate comfort dish. Some might say something so good should never be messed with. I decided to do the sacrilegious thing. Noodles are of course always delicious. But what if I could up the nutrition factor. Since we are now in the Autumnal season, I am starting to mess around with squash. After preparing a stewing hen for the first time, I was planning on going with the classic comfort soup. I was going to make my own noodles. But after glancing at the kitchen, I knew the clean up needed I would be unable to do in the allotted time I had before work. That’s when the light bulb moment took place. Why not use spaghetti squash like I would the noodles. That squash has a noodle-like texture and I have been telling customers at work that you can use it as a pasta replacement. So why not be crazy and replace it in one of pasta’s finest moments.

Like previously mentioned I cooked up a stewing hen. This is an older bird that is very flavorful (especially it’s broth!) but is tough, so slow cooking is a must. I going to provide a post on how to do this in the near future. All you need is some shredded chicken how ever you can get it along with some good chicken stock. Then it’s just a manner of roasting the squash and putting the final soup together.

Chicken & Spaghetti Squash Soup Recipe
  • 1 whole cooked chicken, meat shredded
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)
  • 1 lb spaghetti squash
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Carefully slice your squash in half.
  3. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. This will help pull our moisture, speeding up the cooking process.
  4. Bake in the oven for 45-60 mintues or until the flesh is as soft al dente pasta
  5. Cool, before removing flesh. Remove with a fork. If strands are too long, cut in half.
  6. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add carrots. Simmer until carrots are soft. Then add your chicken, squash, and thyme. Bring back to a boil.
  7. Add dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste.



I love getting deals at the farmer’s market on huge boxes of food. I have been picking up big boxes of tomatoes for $10 or less. I spend a couple Saturdays making tomato sauce. Now I am switching over to tomato soup. I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple good sizes boxes of heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market for just $2 a piece. They were seconds, so they didn’t look perfect. They had some blemish, or some splitting. I say save the money and go for the uglier yet still flavorful tomatoes.

Why Heirloom Tomatoes
What is the big deal about heirloom tomatoes? Why is everyone all excited about them? Heirloom varieties are varieties that have stood the test of time. They are tomatoes that are picked for flavor above all else. Unlike what you find in most grocery store displays. Some varieties like Brandywine, Kellogg’s Breakfast, and Cherokee Purple are a few ones that I have come across this year.

A Guide – Not Necessarily a Recipe
This recipe is more like a guide than a recipe. Let your tongue be your guide and use whatever you have. I had enough tomatoes to fill a gallon sized pot almost up to the top.

How to Make Heirloom Tomato Soup
  • Heirloom tomatoes (a mix of different varieties is best)
  • 6 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (homemade would be best)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
  • Your favorite fresh herbs (optional)
  • Heavy cream for serving
  1. Slice your tomatoes into chunks. You don't need to be fancy.
  2. Salt the tomatoes with kosher salt. This will start the seasoning process as well as help to bring out moisture in the tomatoes.
  3. Lightly coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil
  4. Dump the tomatoes into your pot.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  6. When the tomatoes can all be broken down with a spoon, I like to puree it with a stick/immersion blender. I remove the pot from the heat for a minute, so I don't get hot liquid in my face.
  7. I then run it through a food mill to make it really nice and smooth (I don't like chunky tomato soup!). You can skip that step.
  8. Bring the tomatoes back to a boil and stir in your chicken stock.
  9. Cook until the soup is your desire consistency.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as any chopped fresh herbs.
  11. For serving I like to have some heavy cream at the table to mix in. You could add a little sour cream instead if you like.
I like to save my leftovers in quart sized plastic bags to pop in the freezer to enjoy later. Do not add any cream before freezing as you lose the impact of the cream when you freeze it in the soup. Any cream based soup I ever froze suffered when I re-heated it again. It's best to add your dairy at service time.



A couple weeks ago I was planning my meal for St. Patrick’s Day. The last couple years I had served corned beef along with cabbage and potatoes. This year I decided to put the cabbage into the mashed potatoes. So I felt like I needed another dish to complete my meal. I wanted it to be something that was genuinely Irish. After much searching I found someone who had made a cream of turnip soup. That person was trying to re-create an experience they had eating cream of turnip soup during a trip to Ireland. So I thought hey why not start our meal off with a soup course. We don’t have do that at home, if I was going to do it any day why not St. Patrick’s Day. I made the soup and it came out delicious.

I am not known for leaving well enough alone. I was thinking what could make this soup even better. What about roasting the root veggies before hand. That would add a whole another dimension to this soup. Yesterday, I gave this a try and everyone was pleased with the results. My 4-year old said it was the best soup she ever had. The consistency was nice and thick. By roasting the veggies, they lose moisture concentrating the flavor and helping to thicken the soup.

The recipe is a take off of the one I found, with the changes I made.



Roasted Cream of Turnip Soup Recipe
  • 2 medium sized turnips, peeled & diced
  • 3 small parsnips, peeled & diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • kosher salt to taste
To roast the turnips & parsnips
  1. Peel and dice the root vegetables.
  2. Place them on a half sheet pan, along with some olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Then into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until they have taken one a lot of brown color (not black!).
To prepare the soup
  1. Add the butter to a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the chopped onions when the butter has melted. Cook the onions until they start to turn translucent.
  2. Then add the chicken stock and roasted vegetables.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the veggies are soft. Remove from heat.
  4. Using a immersion or stick blender, blend the soup until it's smooth.
  5. Add the cream and bring back to the heat. Just cook until the soup is warm enough for you. Add salt if it needs it, I found that it didn't. Serve immediately along with some freshly cracked white pepper and croutons.



Pumpkin Tortellini Soup

I love the challenge of using ingredients that are typically used in sweet dishes and use them for savory. During the fall I cook up my fair share of pumpkins to use in all sorts of recipes. Most of the time they are going into sweet recipes, but I have been learning how to incorporate them into the savory. I was originally inspired to make a soup with them when I was browsing through some cookbooks at my local library. I came across an idea to wrap a pumpkin filling in wonton wrappers and serving it in a broth. I went to work on developing my own filling.

Pumpkin Tortellini Soup

What I like about this soup is that it is easy to make and full of flavor. The filling is a little sweet from the pumpkin and creamy from the Parmesan. Then when you serve it a homemade chicken broth it makes it a complete well balanced soup. Perfect for a cooler, cozy autumn day.


Pumpkin Tortellini Soup
  • 8 oz pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • ¼ cup hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 20-30 square wonton wrappers
To make the filling
  1. Start by mixing the pumpkin puree, cheese, Panko, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Then add in one egg yolk.
  3. Make sure to save the white to use to seal up the wontons.
To make the chicken stock
  1. I made the stock by placing the bones from a whole chicken I roasted, into my slow cooker when the chicken was done.
  2. Then I filled it up with water, some salt and pepper, slightly broken up celery and carrots. I cooked the stock in the slow cooker all night long and later the next day, the bones were easy to break apart, so I had accomplished my goal.
  3. I then placed the stock into my fridge to allow it to cool.
  4. I remove the layer of fat that collected on the top and brought the stock up to a boil and boiled for 2 mintues before introducing the tortellini.
To fold the tortellini
  1. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wonton (we used square ones).
  2. Brush the egg wash on the top and right edge of the wonton and fold it in half on the diagonal.
  3. Moisten one of the two diagonal points with egg wash and join the points together in the middle.
  4. Then moisten the back of the top point and fold it backwards- opposite the first 2 points. What you will end up with looks something like an envelope. I made these in assembly line and it went rather quickly that way.
Final preparations
  1. Bring your chicken stock to a boil. Then add the chopped sage.
  2. Then introduce your tortellini. Cook until tender and the filling is heated through. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Serve pipping hot with some freshly cracked black pepper on top.




Leftover Turkey & Rice Soup One great way to use your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving is in soups. It’s so easy to make up some soup and just throw some turkey in it. The first soup I made this year was turkey & rice. It involves cooking some rice in turkey or chicken stock, along with some carrots until finished, then throwing in handfuls of leftover turkey. I forgo the more common long grain rices and pick out a short grain or sushi rice. It just makes the soup better. I also like to throw in some chopped fresh rosemary and sage. Those herbs are classic Thanksgiving flavors. This recipe is meant for a big single serving or two smaller servings, so this is perfect to make a quick lunch. I saved some of the soup in a zip top bag and placed it in the freezer for when I need a quick lunch.

Leftover turkey
1/2 cup short grain (sushi) rice
fresh rosemary & sage, chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
1 celery stalk, chopped fine (optional)
3 cups turkey or chicken stock

Combine the stock, carrot, herbs, and rice in a pot and bring to a boil. Slap on a lid and simmer until the rice is cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Add a couple handfuls of leftover turkey and bring back to a boil, just to heat up the turkey. Serve and enjoy!

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.

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