You need to have some soup recipes in your back pocket. Soup is amazing. It can be warm and soothing, and while you can spend a whole day (or more!) on building flavors, there are some great soups that you can make in that 30-minute time frame that everyone's so enamored with.
One of my family's favorites is a version of this Pasta e Fagioli from Giada de Laurentiis. Okay, so looking at the recipe like they have it on that site, it says it takes 50 minutes to make, but I'm tell you, 30 minutes is all it takes, if you have your ducks in a row and a decent chop speed. I switch bacon in for pancetta most of the time, because I have it on hand, and I usually use my immersion blender to blend it right in the pot, so that speeds it up a bit.
Here's another good one that I threw together today. Italian sausage, potato and kale soup, Tuscan style. Takes about a half hour, full flavor without having to sit all day, satisfying, delicious. Everything a soup should be.
Here's what you need: one pound Italian sausages (in my opinion, they should have some spice to them...at least use half hot and half sweet), 2-3 medium onions, 2 pieces of bacon, 4 cloves of garlic, 32 oz. chicken stock (one box), 2 potatoes, kale, cream, salt and pepper.
Heat your oven to 325, pop the sausages on a parchment-lined baking sheet with sides, and bake them for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
While the sausage is cooking, dice your onions and bacon, and cook it over medium low in a soup pot for about 10 minutes, until the onion is cooked down, but not browned.
While the onion is cooking, mince the garlic and peel and dice your potatoes.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the stock, some salt and pepper, and the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
While that's boiling, slice your kale. Take out the big stem down the center, and then roll the leaves and slice them very thin. Give an extra chop-through if you want.
Also, your sausage will be done. Let it cool for a minute or two, until you can handle it to cut it up. You can do rounds or half rounds, your choice. Probably depends on how big the sausages are. Mine, I did half rounds. Interpret that as you will.
If you like a smoother soup, blend or smash the potatoes at this point. I used my handy-dandy immersion blender.
Add the kale, sausage, and about a cup of the cream. Bring it to a simmer for 5 minutes or so. Season it to your taste. And then, soak in the goodness, maybe with some crusty bread on the side to sop it up with.
Oh, and the pictures? Hmmm...forgot to take any in process, because I was just trying to get dinner on the table and didn't realize how yummy it would be in the end, and then, by the time I decided to blog the recipe, it was gone. Gone gone gone.
Serves 4, by the way. Little Mr. Picky doesn't go for soup much, silly thing.