Friday Flowers: Lantana Flowers and Sweet Potato Shitake Sausage Soup with Udon Noodles

My cooking is all about the combination of true comfort foods and farm-fresh ingredients.  I love slow cooking: spending time in the kitchen with the food, learning about each ingredient, getting to the essence of flavor to make it shine. (And incidentally, helping my whole house to smell good for hours on end.)  I call my website “cooking on the weekends,” because my style involves setting aside a nice chunk of time and letting one’s culinary passion reign!  I just love deep, rich, fresh flavors!

(The preceding paragraph was part of my interview on Yummly.  That paragraph was how I described by cooking style!)

When I made this soup yesterday, I realized that it embodies everything I included in my answer.

As you know, while some chefs pair wine with food, I pair it with flowers! It’s Friday Flowers!

I see Lantana flowers everywhere — especially lately.  I’ve seen them in many colors, from pinks and purples to these fiery beauties.  These flowers say “autumn” to me — they’re warm and full of colorful flavor.  Much like this soup!

Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
Total Prep and Cooking Time: about 1 hour

Olive oil for the pan
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 cups thinly sliced Shitake mushrooms (about 10-ounces)
2/3 cup dry Marsala wine, divided in half
1-1/2 cups roughly chopped brown onion
4 roughly chopped, medium-sized garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons roughly chopped, fresh sage
4 cups peeled and roughly chopped sweet potato (into about 1/2-inch pieces)
4 cups chicken stock
2 (7-ounce) packages fresh udon noodes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil.  Place the pot over medium heat and add the sausages.  Sauté the sausages until they are nicely browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausages and set them aside in a bowl.

Add the mushrooms and a bit more olive oil (if necessary) to the pot.  Cook the mushroom until they are nicely browned, about 6 minutes.  Turn the heat off to deglaze the pan with half of the Marsala.  Turn the heat to high and reduce the wine completely.  Add the mushrooms to the bowl with the sausages and set aside.

Keeping the heat at medium, add the onions and garlic to the pot.  Cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the herbs and cook until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Turn off the heat and add the remaining half of the Marsala.  Turn the heat to high and reduce the wine almost completely.

Add the sweet potatoes and sauté for a minute or two.  Then add the stock and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until it’s smooth with a few chunks remaining.

Return the sausages and mushrooms to the pot and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add in the udon (do not use any seasoning packets that may come in the noodle package) and simmer for another minute or so, just until the noodles are soft.

Timeline:

Up to 1 day and at least 1 hour ahead of time: Sauté the sausages, mushrooms, onion, garlic and herbs.
About 40 minutes ahead of time: make the rest of the soup.
This soup is really best when it’s served right away!

Notes:

Vegetarian?  No biggie, simply omit the sausage and begin the cooking process with the mushrooms

Gluten-free? Easy, too: just use brown rice pasta in lieu of the udon.

Print recipe.

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Comments

    • valentina says

      Mike, thanks for commenting. . . Please note that Lantana flowers are not an ingredient in the recipe. For me, they just embody the feeling of this soup, and look pretty! ;-)

  1. says

    i love Lantana. I do. I just seem to be really good at killing it. But i like the red-orange-yellow variety. Thanks for the veggie alternative. I love Asian flavors and it is so hard to re-create it in the kitchen.

  2. Andrew says

    Going to make this for a friend tonight, but I think I’ll use regular potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, just a personal preference thing. Great looking recipe, I hope I can do it justice.

      • Andrew says

        I ended up using mini red potatoes, and it was delicious. Thanks again! I never would have thought of pairing italian sausage with udon noodles and shitake mushrooms.

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