Sunday, January 23, 2011

Family Recipe: Italian Sausage Soup

For those that cook regularly, soup is the perfect easy meal. With one pot and about an hour, you can create a satisfying and (usually) healthy meal. This recipe is very popular in my house because it has really great flavor without being high in fat, salt, or carbs.

It's been adapted from a very good Cooking Light recipe. To try and manage the carbs and sodium we eat, I've taken out the pasta and canned Italian-seasoned tomatoes from the original recipe and substituted fresh tomatoes and white beans.

Italian sausage provides plenty of flavor and if you use the hot style, a nice hit of spiciness. As a result, the only other seasoning we add is Italian seasoning blend.

Italian Sausage Soup Revised  (6-8 servings)
16 ounces hot or sweet turkey Italian sausage*
1 teaspoon minced garlic, fresh or jarred
2 pints grape tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 can Great Northern beans, drained
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 bag of baby spinach leaves (you can add the whole bag if you like)
1 cup loosley packed fresh basil (you can put in whole or roughly chop the basil)
Olive oil
Garnish: shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
*You can also do half sweet sausage and half hot sausage. For the batch I photographed, I used Publix brand hot Italian sausage and Johnsonville brand Sweet Italian Sausage with Sweet Basil.

1. Heat a soup pot over med-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Using a small knife, open the casing on the sausage links and remove the filling. Brown sausage in the soup pot, breaking it into crumbles as it cooks.

2. Drain fat from the meat. Tip: I find that a lot of fat still remains on the sausage even when you let it drain for a while. Rinse the meat with cold water and you will remove even more.

3. Saute the garlic for one minute in the soup pot. Add the tomatoes. Let them cook down for about 6 minutes until they start to soften.

4. Add the meat, chicken broth, beans, and Italian Seasoning. Stir to blend.

5. Bring soup to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to let tomatoes break down a little more and let the flavors blend.

6. A few minutes before serving, add the spinach and basil. Mix into the soup and let the greens wilt for a minute or two and serve with Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.

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