Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Minestrone with Chicken Sausage

I knew we would have a late cold soccer practice tonight, and I've been trying to use that time to get my walk in around the track while my son is working out with his team on the field.   I wanted something warm and satisfying to come home to for dinner, so I started this on the stove before practice.  I had the luxury of having my daughter home to finish up the last step and have it all ready for when we returned.  It worked perfectly, so I'm sharing this recipe while it's still fresh in my head.

That's been the problem with a lot of my dishes; I hardly ever make it exactly the same way twice. It's hard to remember what I did the last time so that I can either do it again or share it with someone. This is tonight's version and it got a thumbs up, even from the boy who "hates all soups."  I told him this wasn't soup-- it's noodles and sausage in a little bit of broth.  I even let him put some parmesan on top.

1 T olive oil
One 14 oz package of Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausage
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian seasoning 
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 cans tri blend organic beans (substitute with red, black, white or garbanzo beans)
2 boxes 32 oz. beef broth, low sodium
1 cup fresh green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 bunch fresh spinach (about 2 cups chopped in large pieces)
1 cup farfalle (bowtie) pasta
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan (optional)

Cut sausage links into 1 inch slices and saute in olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. When sausage is no longer pink, add chopped onion and garlic.  Saute together until the onion is translucent.  Add Italian seasoning and stir together.  Reduce heat to medium.

Add tomatoes and beans.  Stir together and cook for additional 2-3 minutes or until tomato blends well together with ingredients.  Add one box of broth and simmer together for 30 minutes to allow all flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a separate pot to al dente.  If you try to cook the pasta right in the soup, the starch will release from the pasta into your broth making a very thick base.  Drain the pasta and set aside.

Add cut green beans and spinach to soup mixture.  Add 1/2 box of broth so vegetables are covered.

Cook 5-7 minutes or until green beans are slightly crunchy.  Add pasta and stir together.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer on low for additional 5 minutes.  Add remaining broth as needed.  The noodles will continue to expand a little.  Serve and top with shredded parmesan.

Serves 6 large bowls.

Dietary considerations:
Gluten Free: substitute with your favorite gluten free pasta; check your brand of beef broth and go with an organic gluten free option.  There are several.  I use Al Fresco chicken sausage which is gluten free.
Dairy Free: just don't add the parmesan!

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