When you’re craving dinner in a bowl, this is what you should be having! Hearty and delicious, perfect nourishment after a long day… it never disappoints. Recently made while visiting family, it was also given the thumbs up by the pickiest of picky eaters – my 9-year old nephew Adam!
What’s so good about soup…? Well, everything. Let’s start with the comfort factor. Then, there’s the absolute ease and portability of dinner in a bowl, or mug for those trés casual moments. Game night? Good. Movie night? Even better.
Nutritious, versatile and open to so many variations and interpretations, there is absolutely no end to what can be made into a soup. A good go to is always minestrone: flavoured with a bit of meat, lots of vegetables, some beans and a little pasta. So, go ahead and experiment. You could have your own specialty of a weekend-clean-the-fridge-out-version, using what you have, but to include, like most good soups, onions, with at least carrots or celery, and a bit of minced garlic. At the end, add a handful of whatever veg you stock in your freezer; peas, corn and spinach are always good choices.
Got it… here goes. This is my base recipe, altered by using different beans, pasta and whatever extra bits of veg are hanging around.
Experiment. Use what you/your family/whoever you’re cooking for – likes. ‘Nuff said. Let’s get cooking…
Sausage & Cannellini Bean Minestrone
You could of course make this without the meat, but might find the taste lacking – so be prepared to use extra seasoning. When you do make this, make a big pot because everyone will love it and it takes better and better as it sits in the fridge AND it freezes very well. Serves 4 – 6.
Italian sausage, 4 pieces (use fennel/sweet/hot or whatever your preference)
Olive olive, 1 TBSP as needed to brown the sausage
Onion, 1 large, diced
Carrots, 2 large, peeled & diced
Celery, 2 stalks, diced
Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
Kosher salt, approx. 1 tsp (use as needed)
Freshly ground black pepper, approx. 1/2 tsp
28 oz can whole tomatoes (cut into smaller pieces, save juice)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Bay leaves, 2
Canellini beans, 1 cup approx.
Small pasta: orzo, stars, etc (or spaghetti broken into 1/2″ pieces) approx. 3/4 cup
Heat a large dutch oven or other heavy pot on medium high, then add the olive oil. Cut open the sausage casings, removing the meat in bits and adding to the pot, adding olive oil as necessary. Cook, stirring occasionally until the bits of sausage are very well browned – this will build lots of flavour for your soup.
Once the sausage is well browned, you can drain off any extra fat – but there shouldn’t be much, unless the sausage you used was particularly fatty. Leave some for the cooking of the veg!
Add the onions, carrots, celery and a sprinkle of the salt & pepper, stirring occasionally, cooking for 10 – 15 minutes. This helps build lots of flavour! Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
Add cut up tomatoes, the juice, stock, bay leaves, and another sprinkle of salt & pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Taste the seasoning, adding salt & pepper as needed.
Add beans and pasta, cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
*You could of course add some dried thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, etc to your liking, but keeping it neutral like this has enough flavour, without being overpowering for younger or even elder palates~
Top with some grated cheese, serve with a good hearty bread. Buon appetito~