Introduction: Spicy Tomato Soup (with Bacon and Sausage)

A few years ago, I was staying at a friend's house for a week over the summer to pass the time. We lived in a relatively small community which had very little to offer teenagers. As such, we spent a lot of time indoors, playing with the cats, watching movies and cooking.

Being a southern mountain girl, I had been raised on meat and potatoes my entire life. Spices were limited to salt and pepper. Meals were heavy and filling. Not that this was a bad thing: My mom makes the best fried chicken, beef stew and pot pie in the world. (No one can cook as good as a mother. Period. Well, except maybe her mother!) Still, I felt that there was something lacking in my culinary experience. Thankfully, my friend and her family opened my eyes to an entirely new way of cooking: Hispanic food! I learned to love chilies and spices. What I would have balked at as a little girl would very quickly become my new favorite kind of food.

During the week at her house, my favorite meal by far was this soup. It's not necessarily Hispanic, but it IS spicy! I never thought to ask for the recipe, since it was more of a throw whatever you want in a pot kind of soup. Three years later, after a sudden craving for a really good soup hit, I finally succeeded in recreating the spiciest, sinus-draining, heart-attack inducing tomato soup in the world.

*Caution: Not responsible for any heart attacks that may occur. This stuff is REALLY spicy. Eat at your own risk!

  • Note: Don't let the idea of a really spicy soup scare you off. The heat level can easily be adjusted by substituting various ingredients as explained later in the instructable.
  • Note the Second: I did not create this recipe originally. It was shown to me by a friend's mother. I have never managed to find it anywhere else, so I'm posting it here to share it with those of you who enjoy good soup.

Step 1: Tools

  • a nice big pot with a lid (I think mine is about 8 quarts)
  • a skillet for frying
  • a knife
  • a cutting board
  • a spatula
  • a big spoon for stirring the soup
  • a stove top of some kind (of course!)

Step 2: Ingredients

  • 4 (10 oz) cans of condensed tomato soup (I never said this was healthy)
  • 2 cans of water
  • 2 (10 oz) cans of tomatoes with diced chilies (I get one hot and one medium, get whatever you're comfortable with heat wise)
  • Bacon (I use a pound, you can use more or less)
  • Italian Sausage (I use one package of hot sausage, again, take your pick heat wise)
  • Onions (I use about 2 large ones. I love me some onions!)
  • 1 lb of button mushrooms (more or less, depending on if you love mushrooms as much as I do)
  • Anything else you think will work well. Try zucchini, shrimp, potatoes, rice, etc. This soup is designed so that you can toss in just about anything and have it turn out really good.

Step 3: Preparation!

Clean your work space and gather your ingredients. This might seem a little obvious, but having everything together in one places makes things go a lot faster!

Step 4: Slice, Chop, Cry

Gently rinse off your mushrooms (unless you like eating dirt) and slice them all up. I usually get about five or six slices per 'shroom. Place in a bowl for later. Or you could be like I did this time and get pre-sliced, pre-washed 'shrooms from the grocery store. They were actually cheaper than then whole mushrooms. Go figure.

Peel and rinse off your onions. Cut them in half and then chop so that you get long pieces. Upon seeing the amount of onions I had, I decided to add a third one. I love onions! Place in a separate bowl for later. Go to another room for a few minutes with a wet towel over your eyes until you stop crying. I've heard that putting your onions in the fridge for a few hours before you use them will help with this, but I'm a last minute cooker and never think about it beforehand. Let me know the results if anyone tries it!

Step 5: Clog Those Arteries Part 1: Bacon

Using a pair of kitchen scissors or, if yours are missing like mine (dratted roommates! hehe), a knife, cut your bacon into half-inch to inch long pieces. It's a lot easier to do if you put them in the chill-chest for about fifteen to twenty minutes before hand to harden them up. (I forgot to do this and had to walk away for a little bit while they hardened). I like mine a little bigger so you get that "Yum! Bacon!" thought every time you find one in the bottom of your bowl. Fry until cooked through, then place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb some of the excess grease.

Step 6: Clog Those Arteries Part 2: Sausage

Remove the casings from each sausage (I hate biting in to them!) and discard. You don't want them floating around in your soup, trust me. Chop into bite-sized pieces and fry in the bacon drippings. Once cooked through (the inside will be nice and brown), remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Step 7: Clog Those Arteries Part 3: Onions

Here comes the fun part. Cook your onions in the bacon and sausage drippings until they are golden brown and tender. Salt and pepper (pepper will make the soup spicier, though, so beware) to taste while they are cooking. This takes about twenty five minutes, give or take a few. Try hard to resist the temptation to eat them directly out of the pan, no matter how wonderful they smell. This can cause burns or, even worse, cause your soup to be lacking in yummy onion goodness! Once finished, again remove to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb grease.

Step 8: Some Assembly Required

Empty all four cans of tomato soup into your pot (bigger is better!), along with two cans of water and the chilies. Stir well to mix then set the heat to medium. Remember, even if it takes a little longer to cook, the time is well worth it to cook at a lower temperature. Scalded soup is a very sad thing indeed.

Immediately after starting the base go ahead and add the rest of the ingredients (cooked bacon, sausage and onions, and raw mushrooms). Turn down the heat and let simmer with the lid on (don't let it boil!) for about twenty to thirty minutes, stirring occasionally so that bits of bacon do not stick to the bottom of the pot. I normally can't wait that long and end up scooping some out after about fifteen minutes, but it really is worth it if you can make yourself wait the entire time. (I managed to wait this time simply because my mushrooms were so big that they needed extra time cooking.)

If you choose to add anything else, make sure you keep in mind it's cooking time. Add things like shrimp or zucchini when the soup is just about finished. Denser veggies should go in early on.

Step 9: Chow Time! Finally!

Pour some nice hot soup into a bowl and enjoy! I warned you that it is spicy! If it is too hot for your liking, try adding some shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream to help cool it off a little. Tortilla chips or rice are also great additions at this point.

Remember, you don't have to make yours as spicy as mine. Use two cans of original tomatoes and chilies or mild Italian sausage. It's really up to you.

Step 10: Now What?

This recipe makes an incredibly large amount of soup, way more than I can eat in a few sittings. I like to keep half of it in the fridge to munch on throughout the week and put the other half in the freezer so it doesn't go bad. Just take it out the night before you plan to eat it and let it thaw in the fridge. It should keep for a few days after this.

*Note: I felt like being lazy tonight so I waited until the pot cooled and stuck the whole thing into the fridge. I'm having guests over tomorrow so it probably won't last long anyway.

Step 11: Closing

If you think you can handle an extra spicy soup, then I encourage you to try this using my suggested ingredients. You can change the heat level of the chilies or sausage if it's too hot. Make your own variations to make the recipe yours! Play around with different additions. If you find something interesting to add, share it! Most importantly, have fun!

As always, feedback is welcome! If you come up with some kind of unique variation, please share!