Sunday, December 21, 2008

White Bean, Pasta and Sausage Soup

The snowy weekend made me think "soup," so today I made an old favorite, "White Bean, Pasta and Sausage Soup." Here's how old and favorite it is: I have a handwritten comment on the recipe that reads, "Oct. 1991 - Very good soup." Enough said.

I served it with a spinach salad and sliced wheat baguette.

White Bean, Pasta and Sausage Soup
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups (about 8 oz.) small white beans (Navy beans)
1 - 2 T. olive oil
8 ounces chicken or turkey Italian sausage (sweet or spicy; up to you)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
seasonings: dried basil, dried sage, dried thyme, fresh thyme if you have any
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry small shell-shaped pasta
grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, optional

Rinse and sort beans in fine mesh colander and set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy dutch oven over medium heat. Remove and discard sausage casings, and crumble sausage into the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until sausage begins to brown. Add onion, garlic and carrot and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often. Turn down heat if the vegetables are browning. Stir in beans, seasonings, broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered, at a gentle boil, for 2 hours, or until beans are tender to the bite.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, then stir in the pasta. Return to a boil and cook until pasta is just done, about 8 minutes or whatever the pasta box advises. Serve soup with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley, if desired.

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