Saturday, May 12, 2012

Zuppa alla Pizzaiola (Pizza Soup)

For a cookbook style copy of the recipe for Zuppa alla Pizzaiola, click HERE!

I’m not sure what made me think of using pizza as an inspiration for a delicious soup, but whatever it is, I’m glad for it. And if you try Zuppa alla Pizzaiola (Pizza Soup), I think you will be too.

Should anyone think we’re just tossing a pizza into a blender at high speed, have no fear. Zuppa alla Pizzaiola is a full-bodied tomato soup, seasoned in the style of pizza sauce, and filled with finely chopped sausage, mushrooms and green pepper, or whatever other “toppings” you like. It’s topped with pizza crust croutons and melted pizza cheese (think French Onion Soup), with more of the sausage, mushrooms and green pepper on top. It’s one hearty meal.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.
  • The recipe gives step by step instructions for making the pizza crust croutons from scratch. If you prefer to use a store bought dough, that’s ok too.
  • Speaking of pizza dough, this recipe makes about one-and-a-half crusts. You’ll only need the half for the croutons; store the remainder for later use in making a fresh pizza. Why are we making more than we need? Simple: this amount uses one packet of yeast; making less would mean dividing the packet into a part you’ll use and a part that will end up getting thrown away because it’s not enough to make anything. I’d rather see it get used for something.
  • The “toppings” in this recipe (which are used both to fill the soup and to top the cheese) are sausage, mushrooms and green pepper. There’s no real reason for those particular toppings, except they're what I like on a pizza. Feel free to substitute whatever toppings you like. (Ok, almost whatever toppings you like: even if you’re from California, I’m begging you not to do that pineapple thing.)
 This recipe makes four meal-size servings.

First, let’s make the pizza crust for the croutons. (If you’re using a purchased dough, just skip this step.)

In a small bowl, whisk one packet of yeast (1/4 ounce) into 2 cups of 110-degree water. Add ½ teaspoon of sugar, then whisk in ¼ cup of olive oil.

Combine 1-1/2 pounds of bread flour and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large bowl and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and mix just until sticky dough forms. (It's important to mix the dry ingredients before adding the yeast mixture; direct contact with the salt will kill the yeast.)

In a mixer (using the dough hook) or by hand on a floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. If necessary, add a little more flour to make dough smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, covered with oiled foil or plastic. Allow to rise on the kitchen counter until at least doubled, about an hour. (When doubled, the dough should hold the indentation when poked with a finger.)
Begin preheating the oven to 500 degrees.

When the dough has risen, cut it into a 1/3 portion and a 2/3 portion. Wrap the 2/3 portion to freeze or refrigerate for later use in making a pizza. Place the 1/3 portion on a baking sheet that has been dusted with corn meal.

Stretch the dough out until it is about ¼” thick.

Bake for 11 minutes, turning the pan around in the oven half-way for more even baking.

Now let’s make the pizza crust into croutons. (If you’re using a purchased dough, this is the step you’ll start with.)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Brush the crust lightly with olive oil on both sides and cut into crouton cubes, ¼” to ½“on a side. Place the cubes on a baking sheet.

Bake for about an hour until the croutons are crisp. Set them aside till ready to use.

Next comes the soup:

Chop 1 large carrot, 2 stalks of celery, 1 medium onion, and 4 cloves of garlic.

Heat ¼ cup of butter substitute and ¼ cup of olive oil in a soup pot on medium-low heat until the butter substitute is melted.

Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic, along with 1 bay leaf. Cover and cook for about five minutes. (Don’t let onions color.)

Add two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, three cups of tomato puree, 2 teaspoons of dried basil, 1-1/2 tablespoons of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of chili powder. Mix until combined, and simmer covered for 30 – 40 minutes. Stir occasionally, until tomatoes and onions are soft and broken down. (While the soup is simmering, prepare the toppings as described below.)

To make the toppings:

Finely chop 1 green bell pepper, 12 ounces of turkey sausage (with the casings removed), and 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms. Place in a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sauté until cooked.

To finish the soup:

Begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the bay leaf, and puree the mixture with an immersion blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the toppings into the soup, reserving 6 Tbsp of the toppings.

Place the soup in a bowl, and top with croutons.

Cover the croutons with cheese.

Sprinkle 1-1/2 tablespoons of the toppings on top of the cheese.

When all the soup bowls have been prepared, bake for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

For a cookbook style copy of the recipe for Zuppa alla Pizzaiola, click HERE!

Serve this with a salad on the side, and you’ve got a meal your family will love. (A bag Caesar salad, as seen in the photo at the top, works fine. You’ve just made fresh soup; give yourself a break on the salad.)

I hope you enjoy making, and eating, Zuppa alla Pizzaiola. And that you’ll stop by again next week for another great-tasting home-cook tested recipe! Till then, stay well, keep  it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Sounds so good I'm craving it again before I even make it the first time. I am making this soup! Thanks for sharing, Ben.

  2. I swear, I am not copying you. We even served our soups in cups.. LOL
    You made your own dough for croutons, how awesome is that!
    I am loving this, Pinning it. :)

  3. This sounds really good! And I like the new look.

  4. Thank you, Linda, Kim and Sandy! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did over here, Linda. :-) And Kim, glad you like the dough! While putting this together, that and the cheese were really the main things I felt separated this from a tomato-vegetable soup. As for the new look, thanks, Sandy! Just something I thought it was time for.

  5. SO gonna try this and SO subscribing to your awesome blog! Never knew till recently that we both share a passion for cooking.... Must be in the DNA ;)

    1. Thanks, Lottie! It makes me especially happy to have you here. I guess we do have that cooking gene. 8<:-) (Readers please note: it is with great pride I note that Lottie is my niece. And yes, those are mouse ears on my smiley.)

  6. soup...this is something very very innovative...loved it n bookmarked !!!!

    1. Thank you, Sonali.:-) Let me know how you like it!