Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pasta, Sausage and Bean Soup

            Recipe from Bon Appétit  
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen
8 Servings

This is a really tasty, belly warming soup that’s good enough for company.  Be sure to read the notes at the end of the recipe before beginning. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
            1 pound Italian sausages, casings removed **
            1 ½ cups chopped onions
            1 ½ cups diced carrots
            1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
            1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
            1 teaspoon dried basil
            1 teaspoon dried rosemary
            ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
            ¼ teaspoon dried rubbed sage
            5 cups canned chicken broth
            1 14 1/2-to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
            1 15- to 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and then sliced (optional)
1 cup elbow macaroni or orzo **
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausages and sauté until beginning to brown, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, rosemary, crushed red pepper and sage. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with their juices and beans. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 20 minutes.

Add the zucchini, if using, and the macaroni to soup** and simmer until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes** I find that sausage is easier to work with if it is partially frozen.  I place the sausage in the freezer for about 45 minutes, and then take a sharp knife to make a slit down the casings.  The casings slip right off.  Then with a pair of scissors or a bench scraper, I cut the sausages into bite-size pieces.
More Notes** If you are planning to consume the entire pot of soup in one sitting (you have a big family or you have company for dinner) follow the recipe as written for adding the macaroni/orzo.  If you plan to eat the soup over several days, cook the macaroni/orzo separately, drain and then toss with a little olive oil.  Add the cooked macaroni/orzo to each bowl separately as you serve the soup.  Cooked macaroni/orzo, when left in the soup pot as in the first case, will swell and become somewhat mushy, so cooking it separately will remedy this.

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