serendipitous minestrone

September 27th, 2011

In early summer we make a clear minestrone with fresh herbs and young vegetables from the garden.  But when fall comes around and the first frost threatens it’s a mad dash to get the last of the tomatoes, basil, parsley, chard and zucchini from the garden for a hearty version of minestrone.

The only question is how to embellish a soup that is powerfully flavorful to begin with and that is always a fun challenge.  Among our preferred additions to this rich tomato-based minestrone are grilled Italian sausage slices or browned country sausage or roasted chicken chunks or tiny beef parmesan meatballs.  And sometimes we just add in every available vegetable at hand.  Any and every treatment renders up a satisfying and healthful soup moment.

Hearty Minestrone

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Hearty Minestrone with Country Sausage

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ pound bulk breakfast sausage
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed and sautéed in olive oil until lightly caramelized
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups Swiss chard or spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 cups cooked small shell pasta
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, as garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, as garnish
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as garnish

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, brown sausage in olive oil, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks.  Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and continue to cook for five more minutes until vegetables are softened.

Add remaining ingredients except for pasta, basil, parsley and Parmesan and simmer for 40 – 60 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the pasta and ladle into bowls, topping with the fresh herbs and parmesan.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.