Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Day in the Country: Italian Style Creamy Fingerling Potato and Sausage Soup with Asiago Tomato and Bell Pepper Bruscetta

As of today we have less than a week of summer left and I’m starting to get a bit anxious about my tomatoes. Even though they are heavily laden with fruit, my prized heirloom plants are starting to look pretty tired. To spur them on, everyday I walk past them and give them a cheery, “Hurry Up!” but they don’t seem to be listening.

I am mostly concerned about the future of the smallest of the green tomatoes that dangle from their long leggy vines. It is looking more and more like I will have to eventually pick many of them and ripen them upside down on my countertop instead of watching them transform to their dark ruby goodness on the vine.  Oh well, that will work too.

In stark contrast to my lazy green tomatoes, now is the perfect time to hit the farmers’ markets for corn, carrots, potatoes and colorful peppers of all kinds. As I found out with a couple of friends last week, the pick your own farms and roadside markets are brimming with serious cooks, happy young families and perfect produce. Be warned though; if you mean business and plan to do some serious picking,visit these places at toddler naptime or bring a flask of vodka to soothe your frazzled nerves.

As per usual, I got swept up and went totally overboard buying everything I put my hands on. I am happy to report that my wild and crazy shopping spree cost me less than $20.00. Life is good.

So, for the past two days it has mostly been a vegetarian’s paradise around my house. The first night I just steamed up a plate of mixed veg and sliced some of those aforementioned heirlooms and we gorged ourselves on simple goodness. Last night was much the same throwing some leftover patty pan squash (the yellow round ones with the green ends in the middle left of the photo) and purple bell pepper strips on top of pizzas that we cooked on the grill. Correction, life is very good.

For supper tonight I’m going to add a little meat to our menu. I’m planning on making a soup by browning off some Italian sausage and then mixing in some exquisite little fingerling potatoes (bottom right in the photo) I have been hiding in the back of our vegetable bin. I’m going to pair this with some bruschetta for a perfect late summer meal. So, before it’s too late, grab a carrier bag and hit the closest farmers' market for some seasonal treasures of your own.

Italian Style Fingerling Potato Soup with Asiago Tomato and Bell Pepper Bruschetta

Fingerling Potato Soup:

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage

1 small sweet yellow onion, sliced into thin strips from end to end

1 large garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 – ½ cups chicken broth

1 pound fingerling (or new) potatoes, cut in bite size pieces

1 bay leaf

1 – 2” piece of fresh rosemary

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 – 1/2 cups half and half

Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown sausage in a large saucepan or Dutch oven set over medium high heat, breaking it up as it cooks. When it is starting to brown, add onion and cook until they are wilted and transparent; add garlic and cook for one minute longer, stirring frequently.

Sprinkle flour over the top of the sausage mixture and quickly stir in. At this point the mixture will be very dry in appearance. While stirring, slowly add the chicken broth; stir until it comes to a boil. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, rosemary and red pepper flakes; bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low, covering and simmering until the potatoes are fork tender, approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

Add the half and half and salt and pepper and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the rosemary stem and bay leaf.  Serve piping hot.

Makes approximately 6 cups which will feed 4 hungry people

*This soup is also great with the addition of a little chopped chard and/or sliced mushrooms.

Asiago Tomato and Bell Pepper Bruschetta:

12 thin slices of a French baguette (or any small rustic bread loaf)

1/3 cup olive oil or softened butter

6 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese (or any other flavorful cheese)

2 large tomatoes, seeds and membranes removed and chopped into small pieces

1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped bell pepper (any color you like)

1 teaspoon very thinly sliced and chopped fresh basil

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1/2 – 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mist or brush olive oil or butter on both sides of the bread. Place bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the bread starts to brown. Remove from the oven, turn over and sprinkle with the Parmesan; return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and brown around the edges.

While the bread is toasting, place the tomato, bell pepper, basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Toss to combine.

Spoon equal amounts of the tomato mixture on top of the toasted bread or serve on the side.


Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

I'm feeling some melancholy at the end of summer. Not the heat we've had this year but at the bounty of fresh veggies that I know I'm going to miss. Craving some garden tomatoes just from seeing your market stash!

Love the recipe and have to the pig too!

Boulder Locavore said...

I would recognize Bacon Bits anywhere (the pig) and love the Berry Patch Farm photos. I'm only sad your berry picking was thwarted by the PreSchooler Convention!

My favorite photo is most definitely the one with the bounty of vegetables. It is simple gorgeous food and you did a wonderful job of highlighting the simple enticing beauty of it all. I too love the medley dishes with all the deeply flavored vegetables right now. I'm bracing myself for a plot of green heirlooms when the frost does come. I suppose it comes with our seasonal weather....sigh.

Karen Harris said...

Thanks for putting a name to the face Toni! Bacon Bits is obviously the farm mascot. He was holding court by the restrooms where he could get more individual attention and avoid the chaos at the other side of the farm. I really wasn't bothered by all the children but it was a very busy day for the under 5 set and their moms. It wasn't that long ago when I was at a place called White Post Farm in Nottingham with my two little ones. It was always a wonderful day out.

Lea Ann said...

Geez you didn't tell me you had a flask of vodka! tee hee

Karen, those photos are wonderful. I agree with Toni, the bounty of baby veggies should go straight past Tastespotting and directly to Bon Appetit Mag. The soup sounds so wonderful. As soon as I'm back from Estes I'm going to make it. As you know I have a fridge full of those wonderful little potatoes.

I din't realize Bacon Bits was so darn photogenic. :)
Great post Karen.

Andrea @ said...

I'm with you on the heirlooms. My brandywines are still green and won't taste the same as the vine-ripened. Such is the growing season in Colorado. However, my green zebra's have been doing well for weeks.

Hope to see you soon.

The vegetable array photo is excellent!

Kirsten@My German the Rockies said...

Bacon Bits. I am so glad I finally know the piggies name. I think he is adorable.
Well, how come you didn't share your drink with us??
I also LOVE the picture of the produce in the tub. That is a great one Karen.
You know I still have some of these delicious fingerling potatoes waiting to be used. I thought about roasting them, but your soup sounds pretty irresistible. Do you still have some leftovers by any chance?
I really hope that your tomatoes hurry up to ripen on the vine. If not, how about we cook up some fried green ones together?

Yenta Mary said...

OMG, everything looks so gorgeous and sounds amazing!!! You've gotta get to the markets or the u-picks with strategy in mind, or else you'll either lose your mind or become agoraphobic from the crowds, dogs, strollers, whining, crying (and not always from the babies!). Early morning seems to be best, and then you can escape to your kitchen while the others fight for position through the rest of the day ....

Midwest to Midlands said...

Nothing better than fresh picked veggies. Sadly the season is coming to the end, but now we have apples.