Photos and Words by Kristina Lauria
Few things are better than the feeling of contentment that washes over you when you sit down at the end of a long Fall day with a warm bowl of homemade soup. Until recently, I had the misconception that this great pleasure was just out of my reach; the thought of doting over a simmering pot of soup just seemed time consuming. But thankfully, I was wrong. I decided to give soup making a shot one night when my fridge and pantry were less than adequately equipped to make a yummy and satisfying meal. In a moment of lucidity, I realized that I did have enough ingredients on-hand to create the delicious dinner I deserved: Homemade Tomato Soup. Here’s what I used:
- Canned Chickpeas
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Italian Chicken Sausage
- Jarred Tomato Sauce
- Chicken Bouillon Cubes
That’s it! The real beauty in this wonderful discovery of mine was not only in finding that I could make a delicious soup in a short amount of time, but also realizing that this can still be achieved with so many other substitutions. Grains and pastas, onions, veggies of all shapes and sizes, meats… the list is really endless. Therefore, I’ve decided that soup is one of the best culinary defenses with which a college student can be armed. As long as you keep a few pantry staples on hand, like those bouillon cubes I mentioned and a grain to add some substance, you can always make a quality soup at a relatively low cost.
If that doesn’t give you enough reason to hop on my Soup Celebration Train, then the fact that you can make large quantities to store in the fridge or freezer for later use will be sure to do it. My single creation provided me with belly-warming lunches and dinners throughout a two-week period. Here’s how I made it:
Tomato Veggie Soup
½ cup canned chickpeas
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 Italian chicken sausage, sliced and quartered
1 ½ cups couscous
¼ cup jarred vodka sauce
2 XL chicken bouillon cubes (Knorr brand)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoon ground sage
½ tablespoon parsley
1) In a large pot, begin to boil the water. Add the chicken bouillon and break apart with a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally.
2) In a separate sauté pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high until it coats the entire pan.
3) Add in chopped tomatoes, sausage, garlic, and chickpeas. Also add in the seasonings, and incorporate to coat every item. Let the items cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst and the sausage pieces are browned.
4) Pour the tomato sauce over the sautéed items, and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, scoop all items in the pan into the pot, and stir well to ensure even distribution.
5) Let simmer over medium to low heat for about 15 minutes.
6) Finally, add in the couscous and cook for about 5-8 more minutes. At this point, everything will be properly combined and incorporated, but you are welcome to continue developing the flavors for up to an hour longer over low heat with a lid on. Please be sure to taste and season when appropriate before removing from the heat!
Lastly, finish servings with freshly grated asiago or Parmesan cheese and enjoy!