Hearty and delicious, this sun-dried tomato soup is bursting with classic Italian flavor. Make it ahead for easy entertaining!
My mom passed away seven years ago at the age of 93 but last month (September) would have been her 100th birthday. My sister Marlene, had the wonderful idea of a reunion to celebrate our mom. Marlene also graciously offered to host the special occasion and all of my siblings (and spouses) gathered from across the country at her home in Milwaukee. It was a delightful weekend of catching up, laughing, sharing life and reminiscing about days gone by. The weekend passed by too quickly but we all left with wonderful memories of our time together. In addition, I left with a delicious new recipe idea swirling around in my head; this Italian Sun-Dried Tomato Soup.
Milwaukee has lots of fun and interesting places to shop, so one morning, all the girls (three sisters and two sisters-in-law) piled in Marlene's car and spent the day roaming through consignment shops, antique stores, small boutiques, etc. Around midday, we were all feeling hungry and decided to stop for lunch at a charming little café in the downtown Milwaukee area.
It was a lovely, cool Wisconsin day and soup sounded perfect. When our waiter described the soup du jour, a sun-dried tomato soup with Italian sausage, none could resist. And when the soup was served, we all had the same enthusiastic response! "Oh my goodness, this is amazing!", "Wow, delicious!", "Excellent" and "Wonderful!" were a few of the descriptive superlatives that you would have heard if you'd been a little mouse sitting under the table.
While thoroughly enjoying the fabulous soup, I was also deconstructing it in my mind with each spoonful. When the waiter came to check on us, I asked a few questions about the ingredients. Yes, I was already thinking about how I would replicate the soup when I got back to my kitchen.
We've been back home for a few weeks now and Scott's been eating lots of sun-dried tomato soup, as I've been obsessed with getting this soup right. I've tweaked and tested and; although I can't guarantee that mine is exactly like the restaurant soup, it's super delicious! Scott, not always being a huge soup fan (like I am!), said he could "eat this sun-dried tomato soup for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner"!
I'm pretty sure the memorable soup in Milwaukee had a fair amount of heavy cream. I generally don't use any dairy products in my creamy vegetable soups, but this one needed just a touch to round out the flavor. A mere quarter cup gives it a wonderful, rich creaminess, but only adds about 25 calories per serving.
Although this soup is creamy, it's also hearty which is an unusual, but wonderful combination. Eight ounces of bulk Italian sausage is cooked until golden then removed from the pot until the very end. As the soup cooks, the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot (known in culinary terms as "fond") are incorporated into the soup, adding another layer of fabulous flavor.
I love to serve this sundried tomato soup with a simple green salad and some warm, crusty bread (like this Ridiculously Easy Focaccia or these Unbelievably Easy Artisan Rolls). Being such a hearty soup, I think you'll find that even those who aren't big soup lovers will be asking for second helpings!
Café Tips for making this Italian Sun-Dried Tomato Soup
- Italian sausage brands will vary in the amount of fat that is rendered when the sausage is cooked. One of my local grocery stores make their own and it has almost no fat when cooked. I really like the flavor of Johnsonville but it does tend to yield more fat. That's not a problem though as the recipe instructs to discard any extra fat before adding the other ingredients.
- This makes a large pot of soup; 8-10 servings. It will keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and freezes well.
- This recipe calls for ¼ cup of sun-dried tomatoes. Sun-dried tomatoes come in bags in the dried form and need to be re-hydrated. They also come in jars, packed in oil. You want the oil-packed tomatoes for this recipe. Just be sure to drain them well before adding to the soup. I let them sit in a small sieve resting over a bowl for about 5 minutes and press on them with the back of a spoon to drain off most of the oil. I return the oil to the jar as it's a wonderful flavored oil for salad dressings and drizzling over veggies, chicken, salmon, etc.
- The recipe also calls for one can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes are just what the name says, tomatoes that are roasted over an open fire. They have a really nice depth of flavor and color with little bits of charred tomato. Fire-roasted tomatoes are available in most grocery stores in the same section as the regular tomatoes. If you can't find them, no worries! Just use a can regular diced tomatoes. I love the fire-roasted tomatoes from Aldi. They have wonderful flavor and a deep red color. The cans also have a pull open lid and are made to stack nicely.
- Toasted pine nuts make a pretty and delicious garnish for this sun-dried tomato soup. Pine nuts can be pricey and can go rancid quickly at room temperature. I like to buy them in bulk at Costco and keep them in the freezer where they keep fresh for up to a year.
- You can use a regular blender or an immersion blender to puree this soup. I love my immersion blender, as the blending is done right in the pot instead of dirtying a blender container too. I recently purchased this Cuisinart Smart Stick Blender and we've become best friends!
Check out a few of our other favorite "whole-meal" soups:
Hearty and delicious, this Italian sun-dried tomato soup is bursting with classic Italian flavor. Make it ahead for easy entertaining!
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 5-6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 12 ounces carrots roughly chopped* about 3 fairly large carrots
- ¼ cup well-drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil tightly packed
- 1 14 ½- ounce can fire-roasted canned tomatoes puréed
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- For garnish:
- fresh basil leaves
Heat oil in a medium-large pot over medium heat until hot. Swirl to coat bottom of the pot with oil. Add sausage and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Break sausage into small crumbles with a metal spatula as it cooks.
Remove sausage to paper towel lined plate or bowl. Set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. (If your sausage is very lean and doesn't yield much fat, add enough olive oil to equal 1 tablespoon.)
Add the onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add pesto and Italian seasoning. Stir well and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add 5 cups of the broth, carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pot with the onions. Stir with a metal spoon or spatula, scraping up the brown bits (fond) on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until carrots are very tender.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly then puree with an immersion blender (or regular blender) until smooth. (If using a regular blender, cover the opening at the top of the blender lid with a small, narrow-opening funnel, a folded kitchen towel or several thicknesses of paper toweling to prevent a pressure build up.)
Return soup to the pot if using a regular blender. Add cream and reserved Italian sausage. Stir well to combine. Taste and add a bit more salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed. Serve warm or allow to cool and store in refrigerator. Soup can also be frozen.
While soup is cooking combine ½ teaspoon olive oil, pine nuts and ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt in a small sauté pan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until pine nuts begin to brown just slightly, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
See Café Tips above for further instruction and detailed tips.
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