The Soup Blog
Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
Icebox Soup
Categories: Broccoli, Cheese, Pasta, Pork, Tomatoes

The Ice Maker Cometh

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how spring was coming.  The snow was melting, crocuses and snowdrops were blooming and the mercury was up above 50 for the first time in months.

False alarm.

Chicago will do that to you. Veteran Midwesterners are used to this meteorological bait and switch.  We Californians still get fooled every time.

Spring does come.  It just comes on its own time. That’s why there’s a local gardening understanding that you don’t put anything in the ground any earlier than May 15th , in case there’s a late frost. (shudder)  In Los Angeles the weather is so mild, a random tomato seed in February could volunteer new fruit out of a crack in the sidewalk.

Here you learn to wait and make do with what you’ve got. For now fresh garden vegetables exist only in the future tense, and we rely on the pantry and the frozen food section for a few more weeks (months?).  That doesn’t mean we settle for lower quality, just that we have to be more innovative, more resourceful.

There’s a stigma about cooking with canned or frozen vegetables in California because fresh local produce is available year round. In Chicagoland, the growing season is closer to 24 weeks. In the intervening time not only do we live in an icebox, we cook out of one too.

As such, when the temperature dropped below freezing again this week, I was ready. My plans for clam chowder went out the window and I ran for the freezer.  I pulled out frozen broccoli and Italian sausage and threw them into the stock pot with a can of diced tomatoes (organic, of course, you can take the man out of California, but…), celery & seasonings and put the whole thing on to simmer.  After forty minutes the house was filled with a warm and hearty aroma.  Next I stirred in the pasta and let the soup finish on low.

It was fast, easy, and delicious.  All good things.

Sometimes it’s fun to spend all day in the kitchen.  Sometimes it’s more fun to spend all that time with your family and throw something together at the last minute.

Since I came to the Midwest, I’ve learned to appreciate all the time I have.  In California, my Midwestern wife would ask “Where are the seasons?”  “We have seasons,” I’d reply, “they’re just subtle.”  Yet because I could wear short pants pretty much year round (and when I couldn’t, I did anyway), the passage of time was something I noticed more on the calendar than felt in my bones.

Not any more.

(Fun fact:  Bone marrow makes a delicious soup, an Italian delicacy no less.)

If you’re feeling the chill in your bones too, there’s no better soup than this.  It will keep you warm through a false spring.  The real spring will get here eventually.  But you won’t find me waiting around for it.  There’s too much to do, too many last minutes to fill.

And if I can’t coax you out here with me, maybe I could recommend a bowl of nicely seasoned soup.

Sausage & Broccoli Soup
(serves 6-8)
6 cups stock, anything except fish stock will do
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 lb broccoli
6 sweet Italian sausages, sliced
1 14.5 oz. can, diced tomatoes
2 T Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper, to taste
4 oz. farfalle pasta
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Put the stock into a 3 quart sauce pot, add celery, broccoli, sausages, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt & pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Add pasta and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan.  (Look Ma, no immersion blender.)
  4. Serve with crusty bread and salad with Italian vinaigrette.

Photo Credit:  A favorite appliancethe Ice Maker, shot by the author.

Don’t just talk about the weather. Do something. Put a sweater on.  Put some soup on. Once you’ve warmed up, I’d like to hear from you.  Leave comments. Ask questions.  I’ll be listening and responding.


7 Comments to “Icebox Soup”

  1. semi-savant says:

    Short pants? Boy, you are becoming mid-west like. Good writing and I like your tomatoes in the crack image.
    I am going to try that soup recipe soon (when it dips below the 70’s!)
    Time for some juice recipes? My favorite: “better red than dead” is beets, carrots and sweet potatoe, I like to add ginger and lemon zest for some zing!

    • pcandres says:

      I figure with all the Wall Street animosity these days, I’d better make sure I’m not talking about short-selling. Although neither am I talking about short panting. I’m actually getting into pretty good shape. Oh, and about the “below 70’s” crack, that’s what we’ve got right now in Wisconsin. I look forward to hearing the juice recipe.

  2. Jame says:

    Hi Phil. Last comment for today. (I’ve been madly trying to make up for the weeks I’ve missed!) I’ve been looking for something to make with the seiten Italian sausages that I’ve recently tried. (They are delicious!) This looks like just the thing. I’m also always on the look-out for good broccoli soups.
    You talked about this being a “quick” soup based on ingredients the freezer, and I’ll use it as such when I don’t have lots of time to prep and cook (AND have the ingredients in the freezer, of course!) But this time, since I do have the time, I’ll probably go for the fresh… I do love using frozen ingredients, though. They can be SO convenient when I’m short on time. (Prep work is the part I dislike the most when I’m feeling pressed for time.) Love, Jame

    • pcandres says:

      If you use the seitan, you might want to make a smaller batch. I wonder whether re-heating would tnd to overcook the “faux-sages.” Let me know.

    • pcandres says:

      Quick and easy is sort of the rule here, but it is fun to do something a little more labor intensive once in a while. Hence the Ratatouille Soup (posted 4/13/10). Thanks for reading.

  3. Jame says:

    Okay, I’m back… Just made the icebox Soup tonight. DELICIOUS! I used the fresh broccoli and seitan Italian sausages, as planned. Since the seitan is prone to overcooking, I didn’t put it in at the start. I cooked everything but the broccoli and the “sausages” for about 30 minutes. Then I added these two ingredients with the pasta. I also added about 2 T of olive oil, as the seitan sausages have no fat (like “real” sausages do).
    It turned out wonderfully! The soup was done at 9pm, but both Declan and I couldn’t resist a small bowl each. (Then, Declan couldn’t resist a second bowl.)
    The corn chowder that I made on Friday went fast, too. I bought the ingredients for a second batch this evening. I’ll be making that again, tomorrow…

    Thanks, Phil! We love you and we love your soups!!

  4. Paul says:

    Had this at M & D’s on Saturday (with tofurky sausage) EXCELLENT!