I based this off of a recipe for Zuppa Toscana from The Olive Garden. But, being me, I changed and substituted so much stuff that I can't really call it that anymore. So Spicy Italian Soup it is. I made this for a church dinner we had last Saturday, and everyone who tried it raved about it. I was getting recipe requests and compliments all over the place. That always makes me feel warm and fuzzy. :-)
So here's the soup as I made it. Don't be put off by the number of ingredients - they're all cheap.
Spicy Italian Soup
1 lb. ground beef
1 large diced red onion (you could use any color onion here)
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. bacon grease (or oil)
10 cups water
5 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. ground sage
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (reduce or eliminate if you don't like spicy)
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. sliced potatoes
1 cup milk
3/4 cup powdered milk
1 tbsp. margarine
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Brown ground beef in large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
In the same pan, saute onions and garlic in bacon grease for approximately 15 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
Mix together the water and chicken bouillon, then add it to the onions and garlic. Add sage, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Cook until boiling.
Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
Combine the milk and powdered milk. Add to soup along with margarine. Cook until thoroughly heated.
Stir in the ground beef and spinach. Heat through.