Italian Tomato and Sausage Soup
4 strips bacon, minced
1 onion peeled and minced
6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced*
1/2 t. sugar
8 cups beef stock
1 1/2# sausage (we use polish kielbasa)
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tb. butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tb. fresh parsley, chopped (optional - my family prefers it without)
Saute bacon and onion in large soup kettle until lightly browned. Add tomatoes; sprinkle with sugar and cook 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over med-high heat, cook sausages in water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain sausages; cut into 1" pieces. (If using fully cooked sausage, just slice into 1" pieces.) Add sausages and stock to soup kettle. Bring mixture to a rolling boil; stir in rice. Cook, covered, over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more stock/water if needed. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, butter, and parsley, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with extra Parmesan.
*If you haven't peeled tomatoes before, the best way I know is to drop each whole tomato in a saucepan of boiling water and leave for about 10 seconds. Remove with tongs and the tomato skin will easily slip off with the help of a paring knife.