It’s. Still. Winter.
I love winter even more than the next guy, but c’mon. This is getting to be a little much. We’re caught on a pendulum ride here, swinging from giant piles of flakes to frozen solid slush and back. Weekly blizzards are becoming a new norm.
I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve been making soups left and right and eating it while encased in my fuzzy blanket finest. This particular soup has been one that has reminded me of the cozy, endearing qualities that come with these record-breaking cold snaps. I take a bite and suppose spring can wait a little longer.

This twist on chili is hearty and filling, yet fresh and not at all heavy. As with any chili, it’s all about the toppings. In particular, pepperoncini peppers are a must. Their tangy, briny, mildly spicy juiciness cuts through the rich warmth of the chili. I also highly recommend serving the chili with a side of garlic bread or toasted ciabatta and a pat of butter. This soup makes a big batch for a crowd (or for leftovers) and can be easily halved.

Italian Chili – serves 5-7

1 lb. raw Italian pork or turkey sausage
¾ -1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans Cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth or water
1 7 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 cup (4 oz) finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Toppings:
Chopped tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, shredded mozzarella or Fontina cheese, shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese, crispy-fried onions, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, toasted ciabatta or garlic bread

Slow cooker method:

  1. In a large skillet, cook sausage, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper on medium high heat for 3 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring constantly and breaking up meat.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Transfer sausage mixture to a 3 ½ – 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook, covered, on low heat for 6 hours, or on high heat for 3 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

Pressure Cooker Method:

  1. Set a 6-quart electric pressure cooker to sauté mode, or place a 6-quart stove-top pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Cook sausage, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper on medium high heat for 3 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring constantly and breaking up meat.  
  2. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and set electric pressure cooker to cook 4 minutes. For stove-top models, bring to pressure over medium-high heat, reducing heat just enough to maintain steady pressure. For both models, allow pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes. Release any remaining pressure. Serve with desired toppings.


 Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna get back to my blanket and dream up a way to use this for some sort of Italian Chili Dog. 

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