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Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

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We used an extra lean, free-range pork sausage for this recipe. You can see from the photo that it had very little fat – no defatting was needed. Cooked in a chicken and/or beef stock it makes for a great-flavored soup. We also put in beans and a part of a Parmigiano rind left over from grating to add to the good, Italian flavor. Add a pasta to this recipe and it’s your basic minestrone.

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup is good, and good for you.

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ pound bulk lean pork sausage, Italian seasoned or regular country sausage
3 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, cut in small dice
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise (unless very slim carrots) or diced
1 cup trimmed,  fresh fennel, sliced and cut into smaller pieces, with some of the feathery greens chopped along with it
1 ½ teaspoons mixed Italian dried herbs
Pinch of black pepper
2 quarts chicken broth or mixture of chicken, beef, mushroom broth to equal 2 quarts
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, with liquid
¼ cup dry white wine
Optional: rind or small chunk of Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese (or grate the cheese to put on top of soup when it’s served)
1 cup frozen or cooked green beans
Note: 1-2 cups optional other vegetables: small broccoli or cauliflower florets, quartered artichoke hearts, fresh spinach
Salt, to taste

Put olive oil and sausage in heavy-bottomed soup pot on the stove over medium heat. Begin to fry sausage, and break it up with a spoon. When it is lightly browned, add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots and fennel. Cook stirring, until the pork is cooked and the vegetables have softened. Stir in the herbs and a pinch or two of black pepper, to taste. Pour in the stock, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, wine and cheese rind, if using, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the green beans, and, if using, other vegetables. Let cook just until the green beans are tender. Add salt, to taste.

Makes 10-12 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

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