Yet another soup has been declared a favorite by husband. Do you see why I cook for him all the time? I was out of ideas for dinner and he asked for a soup with sausage in it, but no chicken (why, I have no idea). After a quick search at the Food Network, I ran across Italian Sub Stoup and Garlic Toast Floaters.
I've seen this recipe many times in my soup searches, but it just never appealed to me. For some reason (maybe its lack of chicken), I decided to finally give it a try and I am certainly glad I did. It might sound odd to have soup that tastes like an Italian Sub, but for some reason it works. I used Hot Italian Sausage from an almost local company (sold in my grocery store) and I think it was the key to this soup. It wasn't too greasy and added the perfect amount of spiciness. So, if you can, get the best sausage available at your store.
I have to admit the best part of the soup for me was probably the Garlic Toast Toppers. Next time, I will make double and use them for salads and other soups - they were that good. Hhere's the recipe my comments in brackets:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, plus 1/4 cup for croutons
3/4 pound, 3 links, hot or sweet Italian sausage, split and meat removed from casing
1/4 pound piece stick pepperoni, diced
1 ham steak, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound) [Cut it in half and stack them before dicing to make the dicing go faster]
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock [They were out at my store, so I used a combo of vegetable stock and chicken broth]
1/2 pound gemelli pasta or other short-cut pasta [I ended up using penne since I had a half pound leftover from another recipe]
5 cups cubed crusty bread [If you shop at Safeway, get their artisan Como bread - it made perfect croutons]
3 large cloves garlic, cracked from skin
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bunches arugula, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups) [I was lazy and used baby arugula so that I wouldn't have to trim or chop]
Place a soup pot or deep sided skillet on the stove top and preheat to medium high heat. Add olive oil, 2 turns of the pan and the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage, drain off excess fat if necessary then add the ham and pepperoni. Cook meats together 2 minutes then add peppers and onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring stoup to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Make croutons while pasta cooks.
In a large skillet heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil, 4 turns of the pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add bread to garlic oil, toss and toast the cubes 5 or 6 minutes [I think it's a good idea to toss them really well right away, so no one side soaks up too much oil]. Season the toasty cubes with red pepper flakes, oregano and lots of grated cheese.
Stir arugula into soup just before you serve it up. [Since I knew we'd have leftovers, I just stired a little arugula into each bowl instead of into the big soup pot.] Ladle up the stoup and float several toasty garlic bread cubes in each bowl.
A few more pictures: