You may have noticed I really like soup and make it quite often when the weather turns colder, it pleases on so many levels; easy to put together, produces an inviting aroma as it's simmering, budget friendly, one pot cooking, can be eaten with a spoon, or out of a mug, it tastes so good and comforting, and leftovers are most welcome the next day. It's one of my favorite meals.
My grandmother used to make a soup almost identical to this one, it's really good. I usually cut the recipe in half, and swap out the canned beans for any kind I have on hand. You can also add chopped zucchini, or other squash, etc. It's a recipe you can easily alter to your taste, for example:
This time I omitted the canned beans, pasta and spinach and added chopped fresh green beans instead.
Italian Sausage and Tomato Soup
Makes about 5 1/2 quarts; 10 to 12 servings
Notes: You can prepare soup through step 2 up to 1 day ahead, but do not bring mixture to a boil; instead, cool, cover, and chill. To reheat, lift off and discard fat; bring soup to a boil.
2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausages
3 carrots (12 oz. total), peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 quarts chicken broth
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 cans (15 oz. each) cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 cups dried large shell-shaped pasta
4 quarts spinach leaves (about 12 oz.), rinsed
Salt and pepper
About 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Brown sausage an 8- to 10-quart pan over high heat and stir often, breaking apart apart with a spoon, until browned and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes. (Squeeze sausages from casings, then brown, if you're not using bulk sausage).
Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.
Add carrots, onion, (celery if using) and garlic; stir often until onion is limp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans, and basil and bring to a boil.
Add pasta, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Skim and discard fat. Stir in spinach and cook just until it is wilted, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup from the pan, or pour into a tureen.
Offer parmesan cheese to add to taste.
Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine
I like to add a little extra garnish to most of my soups; this time I toasted some baguette slices and topped them with a small dollop of rouille. Here's my simplified version:
Quick and Easy Rouille
(The Traditional finish for Provencal Fish Stew)
1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon roasted red peppers; from the jar (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
good size pinch cayenne pepper
If you are using the roasted red pepper; whir all ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor until very smooth.
If you are not using the roasted red pepper simply stir ingredients together.
May be made ahead, cover and refrigerate until serving time.
I served them with Parmesan Drop Biscuits brushed with garlic butter.
A good warming meal on a chilly, foggy evening!