Italian Sausage & Pasta Soup

[This is a post that I wrote months ago and never put on the blog. No picture, just a fantastic recipe.]

During this health “event”, I have been so lucky to have the support of friends and family. My oldest (not in age) friend in CA, ABM, arranged a schedule for people to come over to my house and bring lunch to me, hang out, and take a walk. It has been such a blessing because I’ve been able to see friends, catch up and have some excellent meals! Even though, especially in the first few weeks, I haven’t been able to leave home so often, I’ve felt like these lunches have kept me in the social loop.

One of these lunches was generously prepared by my friend JT. She had a big task because she not only brought lunch to me, but my sister was in town helping me, and S & J were unexpectedly home for lunch. Luckily, JT loves to feed people and arrived with a lot of delicious, hearty soup and a beautiful loaf of bread – all beautifully presented in big mason jars inside a basket lined with linens and everything she needed to serve lunch. My sister and I loved the soup so much, we wouldn’t let JT leave the house without extracting a promise to share the soup recipe with us.

And, now, I’m putting it down as one of the most delicious and easy (the jig is up) soups I’ve ever eaten or made. Thank you, JT for sharing the recipe with me!

Note: I could not find JT’s recipe on the San Jose Mercury website. She said that she had clipped it from the newspaper, “The Merc”. However, I did find one that it is remarkably similar, using a tool on the web-site. The ingredients are the same, but the proportions are changed. Here is that recipe, which was in Sunset Magazine. The Sunset recipe is highly rated, as I would have expected (5 of 5 stars).

Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup
adapted from the San Jose Mercury News (recipe was not available on their web-site)

1 pound hot or mild Italian sausage (you can use turkey sausage) I used mild
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 1/2 c large shell pasta (not the extra large ones that you stuff!)
6 oz. bag baby spinach leaves
Salt/pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

Squeeze sausages from casings into 5 to 6 quart pan over high heat and stir often, breaking apart sausages with a spoon. Cook until browned and crumbly. Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan. Add carrots, onion and garlic; stir often until onion is limp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans and basil and bring to a boil.

Add pasta, reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender to the bite, about 10 minutes. Skim and discard any fat. Stir in spinach and cook until it is wilted, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with parmesan.

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