When you think about your favorite dishes, I doubt soup comes to mind. But this soup is about to change that – Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup full of vegetables, beans, pasta and topped with parmesan cheese. This version has sausage too!
The complete recipe, with measurements can be found at the bottom of the post
A few years back, I would watch Tyler Florence’s show every Saturday morning – almost religiously. The only reason I don’t watch it now is because it’s no longer being aired (and because a certain 3 year old has commandeered my TV remote…). One of his shows featured a recipe for Hunter’s Minestrone – and wow did it look good! I had always liked the thought of minestrone, but too often the actual soup was lacking – the vegetables were watery and bland, the broth was boring….but Tyler’s version was very promising! And it did NOT disappoint.
As with any recipe I make regularly, this one has met some modifications over the years….not enough to claim this recipe as “mine”, but enough to make an excellent recipe a little bit better (and easier to prepare).
First off Tyler wants you to steep you chicken stock with a whole head of garlic. Then he wants you to throw the garlic away! What!? I have to dirty a third pot AND trash the garlic? No thanks….instead I add the garlic into the vegetable medley.
Pulse the vegetables until everything is finely chopped, but not obliterated. The minced veggies give the broth a thicker consistency, which really makes this recipe stand out from other minestrone recipes I have tried.
Now for the sausage (and yes, this is the third post in a row that features sausage….but who’s counting?). I never have fresh sage on hand. I don’t grow it and I rarely use it. So instead of buying and chopping fresh sage, I buy Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage. This saves a little time and money and doesn’t affect the end result. But if you are a big fan of sage, by all means use it!
After the sausage is nice and brown, it’s time for those veggies. Add them to the pot with salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves and crank the heat up to high. The vegetables are full of water, which needs to be cooked out. Stir regularly and watch for most of the liquid to evaporate. Next we add the stock, beans and tomatoes.
My go to brand of processed tomatoes is Pomi. They are imported from Italy and come in a cardboard box. They are a little more than a can of Hunt’s, but you get what you pay for – which in this case is less…which is good! The only ingredient in a box of Pomi tomatoes is…get ready for it….tomatoes! No citric acid, no salt, no nothing. And you can taste the difference. My store sells 2 styles – chopped and strained. Strained is like sauce, and the chopped are…well they are just chopped. I use the chopped for this soup.
Allow the soup to come up to a boil, then turn the heat down low. You want it to simmer for about half an hour. Next we’ll add in the pasta and a few cups of fresh greens. If I was buying something specific for this dish, I would get spinach. But I often use what I already have – today I have mixed baby lettuces.
Allow the pasta and greens to cook in the pot for at least 5 minutes – then it’s time to serve. I like mine with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper.
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lb. Sage sausage
1 T. Fresh thyme, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 qts. Chicken stock
1 box Pomi tomatoes (or large can diced tomatoes)
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb pasta, cooked and drained
2 – 3 C. Fresh greens (spinach is best)
Pulse celery, carrots, onion, and garlic in a food processor until minced (but not pureed).
In a large pot, brown sausage in 2 tsp. of olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces. Once it is all browned, add in the vegetables, salt, pepper, thyme and bay. Allow moisture to cook out of vegetables, then add in stock, beans, and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add in the pasta and fresh greens. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Serve into bowls, garnish with fresh parmesan.
Note : This soup can be frozen. But I prefer to leave out the pasta if I intend on freezing it. Then I add it in when ready to reheat.