Everything Soup

I like having soup around for rainy days or the occasional "off" day when I don't feel like being in the kitchen. One of my go-to soups for this purpose is minestrone, although I usually opt for some Italian sausage in the mix instead of the more traditional beans. The result is a very hearty meal that I can warm in next to no time when fussing with food isn't my priority.

The combination of sun dried tomato paste, fire-roasted tomatoes, and smoked paprika also give this soup a lot of depth and flavor. None of these items are particularly traditional in a minestrone recipe, but I've never been one to stop tinkering with recipes and this is a flavor I'm really very fond of. If you like a bit more heat in your soup, you could skip the smoked paprika and work some ground chipotle pepper or even a pinch or two of red pepper flakes into the mix. Make it yours!

If you are looking to make this soup ahead of time, I would recommend not adding the pasta and spinach until it's time to warm what you plan to have for that meal. The rest of the soup freezes and reheats well. Besides, adding a few fresh items helps give the soup a bit of new life. While the soup is warming on the stove, you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, slice a fresh baguette for dipping, or even toss together a simple salad.

Italian Sausage Minestrone

  • 1 lb. mild Italian sausage (any casings removed)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked small sized pasta - I used small ring pasta
  • 2 cups baby spinach

In a large stockpot, brown the sausage, adding the onion and carrots halfway though the browning process. Add the tomato paste, green beans, zucchini, garlic, and seasonings. Stir well and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the broth and water. Stir, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the beans and zucchini are tender. Add the salt and pepper, along with the pasta and spinach. Cook an additional 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

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