Monday, August 29, 2011

Soup for Sick People

I'm a freak. I mean, you probably already knew that, but really, I am. Whenever I get sick, I get a rash. It's mainly on my neck and torso but depending on how sick I am it can spread to my arms, face, legs. It often completely stresses out doctors when they see it for the first time. They always think I have scarlet fever, or fifth disease or something else dire. But over the years I've grown used to it. Sometimes it shows up before I even feel sick, like a bad omen. When it happens like this, I lay in supplies and prepare to take off work. Sometimes it shows up in the middle, a little, Hey! Guess what? You know how crappy you feel? It's because you're SICK, IDIOT! And sometimes, it waits until I am mostly recovered and throws me a Gotcha! And you thought that was allergies FOOL! Which is exactly what happened last week. After tossing back allergy pills, sniffing prescription steroid nasal sprays and working my way through the better part of a tissue box, I found out that really, I'd just been sick after all. Oh well. At least the treatment was the same. A big bowl of homemade sausage and rice soup. And trust me this was easy to make. I made it when I was sick, after all.

adapted from Mario Batali

1/2 C onion chopped
2-3 T duck fat (butter will do if you don't keep duck fat in your freezer!)
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage - casings removed (I used turkey sausage as usual - if you want gluten-free, check your sausage labeling to confirm)
2 quarts chicken stock (that's 8 C)
1-2 rinds of parmiggiano-reggiano (if you don't have these, just add a bit more parm at the end. I save my rinds in the freezer to use in soup, it adds a lot of depth of flavor with almost no effort on your part)
1 C rice
a few cups of spinach, washed and stems removed, rough chopped if it's not baby spinach.
2-3 carrots cut into coins
1/4 C grated parm (double this if you are rindless)


Let's talk about the rice before we even start. It is well documented that I can't cook rice. This extends to soup situations. Therefore, I put 1 C rice plus 2 C water in my rice cooker and made the rice that way. I then added it to the soup at the proper time. Mario advocates tossing the rice into boiling soup and giving it 15 minutes to cook. What you decide is your business.

Okay. In a large pot, over medium heat, add your duck fat (or butter) and your onion and sausage. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, breaking the sausage down with your spoon until it is browned and in nice little nibbly pieces. Add your stock (and your rinds if you have them) and bring it to a boil. If you have raw rice toss it in now and wait 15 minutes for it to cook. If you have cooked rice, toss it in now and keep going. Add the carrots and spinach and grated parm. Cook for about 5 more minutes (I have no idea what this would do to the raw rice?). Taste the soup. Mine required absolutely no seasoning, between the salty parm and the spicy sausage it was perfect just the way it was, but please add salt and pepper if needed.

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