Jan 2, 2014

Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup

Just tried this hearty soup recipe from one of my favorite online sources--Mel's Kitchen Cafe--as my first new recipe of the new year, and this is a winner! I love the combo of sausage, veggies, beans, and pasta. Lots of flavor plus a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to finish it off. Adapted slightly from the original source.

1 pound ground Italian sausage (you can substitute a lean sausage as a more healthy alternative)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked small shell pasta
9 ounces spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned, 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. If your sausage is lean, you may need to use a teaspoon or so of oil so it doesn't stick to the pan. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, about 5-10 minutes. If there is excess grease, drain it before proceeding. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shell pasta, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn't sticking. Stir in the spinach and simmer for another minute until the spinach is wilted. Serve with sprinkled Parmesan cheese. Serves 8.