Tuscan Soup with Whole Wheat Basil Biscuits

Yesterday, I had this grand plan to make this chicken and stuffed acorn squash recipe I’ve been wanting to try.  The chicken was thawing, the squash was ready for roasting, my stomach was growling, Jupiter was aligned with Mars….everything was in place for chicken with stuffed acorn squash.

Then Trent called and dashed all my plans.  “I want that one soup,” he said.  Of course, I knew exactly what he was referring to, because “that one soup” translates to Tuscan soup, which is his favorite. And I really didn’t mind, since I like it to.  Plus, I’m adaptable like that.

So I gathered up the stuff for the soup, then had this utterly brilliant idea.  “Biscuits!” I thought.  “I’ll make biscuits to go with the soup!”  See, in the past, I would buy a thing of refrigerated dough and bake a nice, unhealthy loaf of white bread, slather it in butter, then die a thousand deaths because it was so delicious.  But I can’t be like that anymore.  And since I have a deeply-rooted fear of yeast and bread baking and 6:00 pm on a Monday night really isn’t the best time to tackle that sort of fear, I opted for biscuits.  Cause I can handle those.

Here’s the recipe that I used for the biscuits, with healthy alterations:

1/2 c. applesauce
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. basil
3/4 c. milk

Heat oven to 450. Mix applesauce into flour, brown sugar, baking powder, basil, and salt using a pastry cutter or two forks until it gets all crumbly.  Stir in milk until dough leaves sides of bowl; dough will be sticky.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead 10 times.  Use a roller to roll it to 1/2 inch thick, then cut biscuits out with a round cutter (or use a small cup).  Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet, and sprinkle some more basil on top.  Just cause.  Bake biscuits for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet and serve warm.

Okay.  This is kind of embarrassing.  I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty decent cook, especially in the baking department, and I had high, high hopes for these basil biscuits.  I really did.  But in all honesty, they weren’t GREAT.   They weren’t bad….but they didn’t make me die a thousand deaths, either.  They were a bit dry and dense.  I don’t know exactly what went wrong with them, but I know it had to do with my ingredient substitutions because I’ve made these before and they were fine.  So….let’s start with the applesauce.  I put that in the biscuits instead of shortening.  I think this caused a couple of issues.  Here was one:

When there’s no shortening or oil or other fat involved, and  you put your fat-less dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, stuff sticks to it.  Then you have to chisel it off with a spatula, thinking the whole time how humiliating it will be to talk about it the next day in your blog.  I also think the applesauce made the biscuits more dense, instead of light and flaky like they’re supposed to be.  I’m not sure though…..I’m still new to all this healthy baking.  Any ideas, anyone?

I think another possible issue was perhaps not enough baking powder, which could have contributed to the less than light and flaky texture.  Again…not sure…what do y’all think?

Anyway, I didn’t mean to digress so much into my okay-but-not-great biscuits.  Take from this what you will…if you want to try making these, have at it.  Let me know what you change to make them better, because I love love LOVE biscuits and will be filled with joy and gratitude to the person who can show me the path to healthy and delicious biscuits. 

Now, onto the soup.  Let me start by saying I make no promises that this is a super-healthy soup.  I don’t think it’s necessarily unhealthy, but it does have a couple of ingredients that are………questionable.  Like sausage.  And cheese.

1 pkg. smoked sausage
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
5-6 c. chicken broth
5 new potatoes, cubed
2 cans Great Northern beans
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can evaporated milk
Large handful fresh spinach leaves
Salt, pepper, and basil to taste
Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Chop the sausage and sautee it in a large pot with the onion for several minutes.  Once the onions have begun to soften and the sausage is crisping around the edges, add the chicken broth, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and garlic.  Simmer until potatoes have softened, adding salt, pepper, and basil to taste.  Add parmesan to taste, about 1/4 cup grated.  When potatoes are cooked, add evaporated milk and spinach, and cook for a few more minutes until spinach begins to wilt.  Top with more grated parmesan and serve. It’ll look something like this:

Yums.  This is so warm and satisfying, and perfect for a cold day.  Or a hot day with the AC blasting.  Whichever you prefer.


4 comments so far

  1. Tara on

    I read that repalcing eggs in a baking recipe can be done w/ 1/4 c Applesauce or 1/2 a banana per egg. It stressed to increase baking powder so that may have been the problem. Also,if I wanted to sub for the sausage wld I use mushrooms maybe? Any other thoughts? Sounds super yummy!

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide on

    Well the biscuits leave something to be desired:), but the soup sure doesn’t. Great recipe.

  3. Sherry on

    Forrest says you needed the shortening. That makes light and flaky. They will have a healthier texture, like a cake, with the applesauce. Hand mix shortening with dry ingredients before applesauce. That’s his two cents. Night-night. :)

  4. Rachel on

    I agree with Sherry. Shortening and/or butter is what makes a biscuit a biscuit (think pie crust). I don’t know if those can be made better for you without compromising flavor, texture, etc…

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