While I consider myself to be a relatively modest person (all things in moderation, after all), I can't help but want to toot my own horn a little bit on this one.
I also can't help but think that sounds a little dirty.
My end-of-weekday routine, as a rule, looks a little something like this:
Try to think of what sounds good for dinner.
Consider a few options, cast around on foodgawker for a bit, marvel at other people's cooking/photog prowess.
Decide on something (usually a mix of considering what I've eaten lately, what's in the refrigerator/pantry, and what sounds tasty).
Scribble a quick grocery list onto an index card.
Head toward home and have an epiphany wherein I completely change my mind about what the end result will be.
Never fails! The other day, for example, a plan for beef tacos somehow inexplicably became black bean soup with Cajun shrimp. (Serendipity! I promise to post that one soon.)
And while we're on the subject of soup (I think), it has been knocking around in my brain as a kind of go-to recipe lately. It just sounds good to me these days, as the weather finally starts to linger at less than 80 degrees around these parts. I had kind of a nugget of an idea about making tomato soup with something fun on the side, but I could tell that all of the fun options, while delicious—grilled cheese sandwiches, Cheetos as croutons (a notion I didn't completely abandon, as you can see), Parmesan popcorn—weren't quite hearty enough for my needs.
But as it happened, roughly halfway home, as I was listening to NPR and putting my brain on scan, I somehow landed on the notion that
sausage ball = meatball + dumpling
Are sausage balls a regional thing? I hadn't had them until I was a grownup, but I know they're popular holiday goodies around this neck of the woods.
That's the South, if you couldn't tell by "neck of the woods."
Now, because I'm tooting my horn and such, let me just say that this was even better than I'd hoped. I adapted the soup recipe from a Tyler Florence recipe I found online, but gave it a big hit of heat (of course) so that it could stand up to the sausage balls. They were delicious, savory lumps in a big bowl of warmth, which is exactly what I was going for, all those cheesy, meaty bites in a sea of rich, tomatoey broth.
Blogger says "tomatoey" is not a word.
I discovered that it helps to let your grated cheese and ground sausage rest a little while before mixing/forming your balls; trying to do it with cold ingredients is a little like making snowballs out of ice. Other than that, this all comes together in a flash—and you'll have sausage balls left over for breakfasts the rest of the week!
Fiery Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheesy Sausage "Dumplings"
2½ pounds mixed fresh tomatoes, cored and halved
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 small yellow onions, sliced
½ cup olive oil
Dried crushed red pepper
4 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 pound ground sausage
3 cups baking mix
4 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450. Place tomatoes, garlic, and onions on a baking sheet; toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Roast 30 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce oven heat to 375.
2. Place tomato mixture, chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter in a soup pot; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine sausage, baking mix, and Cheddar in a bowl with your fingers. (The mixture will be very crumbly.) Form mixture into 1-inch balls, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Set aside.
4. Stir basil into soup. Puree soup with an immersion blender (or traditional blender, working in batches) until smooth. Return soup to heat; stir in cream, and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve soup with sausage balls. Makes 4 to 6 servings. (Makes about 48 sausage balls.)