Monday, April 29, 2024

Creamy Italian Sausage, White Bean, Tomato, Spinach Soup

It's been a finicky spring. A few days warm and sunny followed by cold, rainy and damp. In other words, it is still soup weather. To use up a few Italian sausage links, I threw together this soup. It was really good! Next time, I will throw in some pasta . . .

The key here are the tomatoes. You want a good brand you can actually eat out of can and drink a bit of the juice. My preferred brand is "CIRIO" imported from Italy. They are mild and sweet, not acidic. I buy the whole ones and break them down myself. These are a mid-priced brand and I'm very happy with them. 

For the sausage, squeeze out smaller "coin-sized" pieces from the casings and add to the onion mixture. No need to fry and break apart. An onion will do just as well as a shallot, or use a combo of both--even a leek.

Use as much or as little spinach you want. Just be sure it is fresh. You could also use something a bit more affordable and sturdy, such as kale.

If you want to take this to more of a "stew" rather than a "soup," just increase sausages, beans, greens and decrease liquid ingredients. You could also add carrots and celery, if desired. I've done both, depending what I have in the fridge. Just cut thinly and add to onion mixture when sautéing. 

You don't have to add the cream, but it does mellow all the flavors!

  • 1-2 cups roughly chopped "greens," I used fresh spinach
  • 2 Italian sausage links, (I used "mild")
  • 1 large shallot bulb or 1/2 small/medium onion, (or a mixture) finely sliced and then chopped.
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot and stalk of celery (optional)
  • About 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon lightly crushed/bruised fennel seeds (don't omit)
  • 1-2 cans drained cannilini beans (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, roughly broken up (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can water or flavored stock of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon you favorite Italian spices
  • Pinch or two white sugar and salt
  • Sprinkle of hot pepper flakes (I use dried Aleppo Peppers)
  • Handful pasta of your choice. I like little shells (optional)
  • 1/2 to one cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Parmesan Cheese (about 1-2 tablespoons, grated) plus extra for presentation

In a medium saucepan, drizzle a bit of olive oil and begin to sauté onion just until it  begins to soften. Add half of your garlic, the fennel seed, Italian spices. Mix. Begin adding sausage "coins" just to brown a bit. Add beans, tomatoes, pepper flakes. Add water or stock until you are happy with the consistency. Stir. Taste. If needed, add sugar and salt. Add your greens. And rest of the garlic. Allow to simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and heavy cream. Stir through.

Ladle into bowls. Pass around more Parm for those who want it. 


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