My friend Ann is an interesting conundrum of steadfast consistency of manner, combined with an unpredictable, razor-edged wit. Her humor ammunition is typically a myriad of self-deprecating tales that end with what an idiot she is. She is definitely not. She may be one of the funniest non-professional comediennes I have ever encountered. Case in point, the other day we were speaking of shoddy produce at a “shall-remain-unnamed” grocery chain. She performed an unparalleled impression of wilted lettuce that has never, and will never, be bested. Other than her sense of humor, which can be found in spades, she also happens to be an amazing, intuitive chef.
One morning we were sitting around the counter in Ann and Mike’s kitchen. (He’s a whole other story – see smoothie maker video. My sidekick in the video is Ann’s husband, “Hot Mike”. I named him. Ann’s fine with it.) The three of us were just jawing away the time before Brent and I had to get on the road for the six-hour trip home. She asked if we wanted lunch before we left, and we said “absolutely”. As she started to yank open drawers and cupboards, and pull out this and that, Brent started in on a hilarious story involving his best friend, a questionable Romanian, and a shipping container full of ammo gone array. The story was rather involved, and very engaging, so needless to say we were all focused on Brent and his large hand gestures. They can be mesmerizing: the hands, and the gestures.
The next thing you know two steaming bowls of the most fragrant, delicious soup were laid in front of us.
“What the?….” Ann had just made soup from scratch while Brent talked about bullets, and waylaid shipping containers. We both stared reverently down at our bowls, having halted the story abruptly. We dug in. Robust flavors of Italian sausage, fennel, garlic and fire roasted tomatoes all blended together like the fingers on lover’s interlaced hands. (Too much?)
It may have been the best soup I have ever tasted. I asked her what it was called and she shrugged her shoulders. “Just made it up.” “For reals?” I asked. She smiled and nodded. I said, “We HAVE to name this!! Anything this good needs a fierce, memorable name!”
After much discussion, about 32 seconds to be exact, a name was Christened over a glass of crisp chard. ROMANIAN AMMO SOUP was born.
My husband is the soup maker in our house. Brent has played scientist with this particular recipe many, many times. The version below is the current iteration but the beauty of this soup is that it is delectable no matter what you throw in – Got left over veggies or spices you want to get rid of? Anything goes!
This might be one of my most favorite recipes to publish so thank you Ann, for being such an inspirational cook, and thank you Brent, for having strong passions about the ritual of soup making.
A word on MIREPOIX: First of all, I did not know what the hell this was until Ann explained it. I thought I would share it with you because, it is both fun to utter “MEER-PWAH”, and it is the backbone of traditional soup making. SO, basically “mirepoix” provides a lovely flavor profile, and texture to broth-based soups. You finely chop carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Sauté them until they become softened. Then, you start adding all the other junk. That’s it! But, trust me, the process makes such a difference in the final product.
Mirepoiux Definition: a sautéed mixture of diced vegetables (as carrots, celery, and onions), herbs, and sometimes ham or bacon used especially as a basis for soups, stews, and sauces.
Mirepoix Demonstration (Click this to see)
- One large yellow onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 celery stalks
- 3 carrots
- 2 rutabagas, cubed
- 12 Brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 cups chopped hearty greens (kale or chard)
- 1 sweet potato, cubed
- 1 yellow pepper, diced finely
- 1 jalapeño, diced finely (seeds out if you want less heat!)
- 2 8oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 1.5-2 boxes organic chicken stock
- 1 lbs. Italian sausage
- 1 Tbs. cumin
- 1 Tbs. fennel seeds
- 1.5 Tbs. oregano
- 1 Tbs. basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor pulse the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until fine.
- In a large stock pot cook the mirepoix mixture with 1 Tbs. of olive oil on medium heat until softened
- Stir in the Italian sausage and continue on medium heat until the sausage is cooked through.
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the stock pot and let cook for ten minutes, stirring regularly.
- Once vegetables are partially cooked add the chicken stock (if you want a chunkier, more stew like soup, add less stock) and the two cans of fire roasted tomatoes.
- Make sure the soup does not boil hard. A light simmer is reflective of the perfect temperature.
- Add in the rest of the herbs, salt and pepper. Stir well. Now, spend time taste testing and adding additional herbs, salt and pepper to your taste buds liking. (We often add red pepper for some extra heat.)
- Let soup simmer on low for at least another 15 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and serve!
- Credit goes to Ann Soltis for the inspiration and genius behind this recipe.
Make sure to save some for later! The extra time gives the ingredients an opportunity to marry and become even more flavorful. I think most soup aficionados would agree, many soups are better on the days that follow. I hope you love this staple in your household as much as we do.
I am pretty sure that Romanian Ammo Soup tastes below par unless you are expounding stories of foreigners, questionable cargo, and the open seas. So make sure your conversation is robust and lively while stirring together your ingredients.
What did you add to make Romanian Ammo soup your very own? Please share below. If you try out the recipe and have feedback please let me know!
By the way “Hot Mike” is actually an accomplished artist as well as a co-star in my youtube videos. Here is his website!