Based on the Sausage Minestrone from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook though I just took the basic recipe and ran. The best thing about minestrone is that it's pretty much a kitchen sink soup. I can't think of anything you could add that wouldn't end up tasting good. The main flavor components of this soup are the sausage* and cheesy tomato broth. Once you have those as a base, you can pretty much add what you want.
* A moment please in praise of heavenly sausage. We started buying ours from a local rancher and, seriously, they are a taste sensation unlike any other. The difference between these sausages and the ones from Trader Joes or even Whole Foods is immense. The pork is from pastured hogs and it is unbelievable. It makes any dish it's in that much better. It takes the ordinary to the sublime. I will drive 3 hours round trip to buy their sausages. They're that good. Find thee a local producer and you can thank me later.
|Sorry this picture is in the 'cooling down bowl' but we devoured our portions very quickly!|
1 lb Italian sausage
1 lb hot Italian sausage
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
8 carrots, peeled and sliced (I added more carrots because J loves carrots)
1 T tomato paste
1 - 28 oz can peeled tomatoes (I used 2 pints home canned)
8 cups chicken bone broth (or stock)
4 cups tomato juice
4 cups bean broth (from cooking the dried beans, you can also use additional chicken broth)
2 bay leaves
3 - 16 oz cans of assorted beans (I used a mixture of dried Christmas lima, borlotti and chickpeas - really any type of bean will work here and cooking them from dried is much better flavor-wise)
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups winter squash, peeled and cubed
Parmesan cheese rind
3 cups kale or chard, sliced thinly
- In a very large stock pot, saute first the mild Italian sausage over medium heat till brown and remove to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Then saute the hot Italian sausage till brown and remove to the same bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Add the 3 T olive oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Saute until starting to turn golden brown and the onion has softened. Push the veg to the side of the pot and add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Mix the veg into the tomato past and stir to coat.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices, stock, bean broth, tomato juice, bay leaves, beans, potatoes, squash, cheese rind and 1/3 of the cooked sausage to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low and let the pot simmer for 40 minutes. Add more stock or bean broth if needed.
- Remove the bay leaves and cheese rind and stir in the greens and remaining 2/3 sausage.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.
- Serve the soup over the pasta with grated Parmesan or Romano