The Naptime Chef’s Sausage Soup & a Giveaway!

 When we first “met” Kelsey, The Naptime Chef online (I think it was through Food52, where she ruled the dessert contests for a while), we immediately connected over the parallel between cooking for quarter-lifers (our niche) and cooking with a little kid around (hers).

When we first actually met her, over pretzel croissants and hot chocolate at City Bakery, we figured out exactly why that parallel was so telling. See, new moms are pressed for time, because they’re juggling an extra aspect of life, aka a child. Quarter-life cooks are pressed for time because we’re juggling a developing career, roommates, and busy social schedules.

The food that both of these life moments require is not too fussy but still interesting, not terribly time-consuming but still not based on mixes or weird shortcuts, and ultimately satisfying to feed to others, whether a young family or a group of friends.

Kelsey’s site has been fantastic as long as we’ve known her. It’s full of creative recipes that solve the everyday problem of how to get great simple meals on the table. Her book, which came out last week, is ingenius. I flagged a disproportionate number of recipes: creamy malted pancakes;  ricotta crostini with balsamic caramelized onions, honey & sea salt; dutch oven pulled pork; and mint chip meringues in addition to a bajillion others. The photography is moutwatering, the layout casts the book as a place you want to spend time, and the recipes are a cinch to follow.

I was drawn immediately to this soup. In part, it was because I happened to have every single ingredient in my pantry and fridge except the basil, and yet I don’t think I would have put it together to turn tomatoes, sausage, spinach, and stuffed pasta into a satisfying and healthful soup. But Kelsey did. Ingenius, I tell you. And you probably have most of the ingredients right now too.

One more thing: I’ve got a copy of The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life to send to a lucky reader. To win:

And even if you don’t win, you can grab Kelsey’s book online. Can’t wait to  hear what you guys cook from it!

From my kitchen, admiring naptime chefs, to yours,



Chicken Sausage & Ravioli Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
Adapted from The Naptime Chef

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces organic chicken sausage (I used a pack with Italian flavors)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups water
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with their juices
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
About 10 ounces fresh cheese ravioli or a 10-ounce bag of cheese tortellini
6 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Warm the olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Chop the chicken sausage into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot (if you can, remove the casings–but if they don’t come off easily, don’t worry about it). Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook until the sausages are beginning to brown and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

While stirring, add the white wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer everything over medium heat until the wine has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the stock, water, and crushed tomatoes, and add the salt and most of the basil. Give it a stir, bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for about 5 minutes, so the flavors combine. Add the ravioli, and cook until it rises to the top, about 3-4 minutes for fresh ravioli. Drop in the spinach and cook just until the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes.

Ladle the hot soup into big bowls and top with grated Parmesan. Garnish with a few extra basil leaves.

  • Michelle

    Chickpea-Feta Salad

  • Liza Mueller

    This looks really amazing! My go-to ‘under 20 min’ meal is a tweaked version of this chicken peanut soup that Mark Bittman had in NYT in 2009:  I use less peanuts & sweet potato, more greens and some red pepper flakes for a bit of spice. Sometimes I don’t even bother with the chicken but maybe throw in some hominy. It comes out great every time, and my co-workers are always jealous when I have leftovers. 

  • Laura Caruso

    A quick chili with ground turkey and beans! So filling and delicious. 

  • Rachael

    My go-to quick dinner is breakfast! I can whip up pancakes, scrambled eggs, and homefries (microwave two potatoes for a few minutes until they’re mostly cooked; toss ’em in a pan with some butter and an onion and cook till browned and starting to crisp) in about 20 minutes.

  • myscientificlife

     pasta with good olive oil and parm

  • Rebecca Luebbert Marston

    We usually do grilled cheese with tomato soup or lentils and rice with some sausage

  • Aims

    My favorite quick dish is a  one pot chinese noodle bowl with whatever vegetables and herbs you have on hand.  It tastes like it took much longer to prepare!

  • Jen B

    My favorite 20 minute meal is soba noodles (they cook really fast) with an asian-style shrimp and chicken stirfry on top. Also, I LOVE the Naptime Chef; she was my best friend’s study-abroad roomate!

  • Deb

    I make awesome chili, and it can be made with or without meat.

  • Allison

    I love to make scrambled eggs with lots and lots of grilled veggies, whatever meat I have handy, and serve it on nice crusty bread with cheese melted on top in the broiler.

  • Bananas For Bourbon

    A tofu and spinach scramble – just combine thawed frozen spinach, crumbled tofu, sesame seeds and a quick sesame oil/rice wine vinegar dressing. It’s healthy, super fast, and so tasty!

  • shy

    stir fry – quick, healthy and delish!

  • amy beth marantino


  • emsi

    my fave quick go-to meal is a spicy red lentil and tomato soup.

  • emsi

    my fave quick go-to meal is a spicy red lentil and tomato soup.

  • Miranda

    Quesadillas with leftovers

  • Lauren

    Spaghetti with meatballs. I always have some meatballs in my freezer, they can be cooked back up in 20 minutes :)

  • Scorpio Woman

    My favorite dish to cook under 20 minutes is quesadillas.  It pleases the whole family.

  • Scorpio Woman

    I’m a fan of your facebook page

  • Michelle

    I love to make a turkey chili w/refried beans, Rotel, tomato sauce, corn, and kidney beans (and spices) … lots of cans to open but quick to do and SOOO worth it!

  • Michelle

    I liked you on FAcebook

  • Mirakol Smith

    Sounds a bit different, but spaghetti and cornbread. I know the traditional way to eat spaghetti is with the Italian sausage and spices or meatballs and the garlic bread and fancy schmancy salad. But growing up, spaghetti and cornbread was easy and filling. Maybe some seasoned canned green beans on the side for a veggie. We cooked what we could afford when I was growing up. That meant dry plain ole pasta, boil it up, pour a can of pasta sauce and cooked ground beef over it and let it simmer while the Jiffy cornbread was baking in the oven. All of this can be done in about 20 minutes (give or take). Makes me want some :)

  • Aaron L

    Simple fried rice: Rice, Egg, Soysauce or salt seasoning, left over anything else.

  • Claire Boland

    baked eggs with broccoli in them and a slice of provolone melted on top with homemade crusty bread for dipping into the yolk.  Side of siracha if im in a spicy mood

    • Claire boland

      fan on facebook

  • Marla Meridith

    Awesome soup recipe + Loving this book!

  • Tjw28

    Grilled cheese

  • Katie

    I have to go with fancy grilled cheese. Had one tonight with sharp cheddar, dijon mustard, apples and walnuts.

  • Keisenpress

    This looks delicious. My favorite meal in under 20 minutes is whole wheat pasta with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella. It’s perfect when I want the smells of home, when I want something light, or, when I am just too lazy to put anything else together.  

  • Nicolette

    An open faced sandwich with a fried egg, ricotta, and arugula.  Quick to prep and tasty. 

  • Anonymous


  • Amanda

    My roommate calls it ‘sizzly garlicky shrimp’- frozen shrimp sauteed in a pan with garlic and olive oil until cooked, then served with linguini and more olive oil. Simple, but sooooo good.

  • Alexa

    My favorite quick meal is tacos! Straight up ground beef/chicken/turkey is where it’s at. So easy and delicious.

  • Kristiina

    cheese puffs….really fast to throw together once you get used to the technique and the dough keeps in the fridge for days. I like to have a few with a large green salad for lunch. I was looking at this cookbook on amazon the other day! As a student myself, I thinnk it would be very helpful…the study break chef :)

    • Kristiina

      fan on facebook now :)

    • Kristiina

      fan on facebook now :)

  • Jamie Ann

    My quick go to is pasta with some pesto and chicken. Always a hit!

  • Jamie

    Also, I like you on Facebook!

  • Juliana

    Huevos Rancheros! Just made them for dinner tonight with fresh guac. Quick, simple and delish.

  • Mandy

    My fave is a tuna melt on sourdough bread with sharp cheddar cheese and sauteed onions. Nom! Or the butternut squash ravioli from Trader Joe’s with fresh ground pepper and olive oil. I eat that about once a week.

  • Rose

    Tofu scramble :) 
    And I’m already a fan on FB.

  • Michelle

    A caesar salad with shrimp is my go-to easy meal in under 20 minutes.

  • Michelle

    I am a fan of the facebook page.

  • Michelle

    I tweeted about the contest.

  • Cajungourmet

    I’m already an email subscriber & FB fan of both.  My quickie meal is a cream soup usually made with broccoli or asparagus or artichoke hearts.  Saute green onions & garlic in some butter, add a little spoon of flour & cook for a minute or so. Add some chicken broth bring to boil then add heavy cream.  In the mean time, have the veggie of your choice steamed for a few minutes in the microwave & put them in the cream mix & heat thoroughly. Season with salt & pepper to taste You can serve with fresh crusty french bread.

  • K_bear_112

    My favorite 20 min dish is spicy italian sausage with rice. yummy!!!

  • Karen James

    Chop into bite sized pieces a couple of zucchini and a handful of mushrooms and cook with 1/2 a large diced yellow onion in olive oil.  In another pan heat some more olive oil and brown a couple of thinly sliced chicken breasts.  Pour a medium sized jar of your favorite marinara sauce (Mario Batali’s Alla Vodka is my favorite, but a little pricey) over the chicken once almost cooked thru and add the almost cooked veggies and continue cooking another 5 minutes.  Grate fresh parm over the dish and serve.  Viola!  Done in less than 20 minutes, fresh and yummy!

  • Tpot

    Toast with peanut butter, honey, & sliced bananas!

  • Ikkinlala

    A lot of my favourites depend on make-ahead components – one of them is burritos with vegetables and either beans or scrambled eggs. I make tortillas on the weekend and freeze them, and then it’s quick to make a balanced meal.

  • Anonymous

    20 minutes or less: pasta with parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic & red pepper flakes … my husband can even make this one! 

  • Rnjanern

    Broccolini slaw with raisins, sunflower seeds, shredded carrots and purple cauliflower.

  • Mclanek

    I have two go-to 20 min recipes. One for potato soup, and one for stir-fry. Both are easy and delicious.

  • Schmidty

    I can do chicken alfredo in about 20 minutes.

  • Schmidty

    I am one of your facebook followers  – Rust Hawk

  • Schmidty
  • Schmidty
  • Chris Zaccharia

    I love this recipe.. :)

  • Nadene

    Hi Cara, if we wanted to do the above soup as a vegetarian. Would you suggest adding any vegetables to replace the sausage or simply remove the sausage and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth?

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