Alright, this is one of my favourite soups to make these days. It's delicious, flavourful, hearty, at least somewhat nutritious (assuming you pack it full of g00dness like I do) and ridiculously versatile. Then again, I'm of the opinion that most recipes are versatile. Food isn't black & white, y'know? :)
I do have to apologize for the crappy-ish pic above. I neglected to take one as we were enjoying our first meal from the latest batch, so I snapped one later as I was heating up some leftovers. The broth looks a little thinner and greasier here and I forgot the parm on top. But ehh, it'll have to do.
This soup is loosely based on one I found at allrecipes.com. I believe I made it (mostly) faithfully the first time and then began to adjust things based on personal taste, ingredients I had on hand, etc.
To me, the soup only has a handful of "mandatory" ingredients to get the right flavah. Just pick and choose out of the remaining optional ingredients (or add others as you see fit) and everything should come out hunky dory! Heck, you can even feel free to "live dangerously" and adjust the mandatory ingredients. That's the beauty of soup - it should all come out tasty in the end!
I recommend leaning toward organic and fresh or dried (vs. canned) whenever possible, though admittedly I use canned beans and tomatoes a lot as it's just easier. As canned goods go, Eden Organic is a great choice as all of their cans are BPA-free.
The suggested quantities below will feed at least 6-8 people (or 2-3 people with a truckload left for freezing purposes. :)
- 1 large onion, diced
- Several cloves of garlic, minced
- About 6 fresh sausage links, skins removed and cut into small pieces. (I like garlic, spicy and/or paprika myself.)
- 3-4 cups of tomatoes, diced (fresh or use a 28 fl oz can)
- 7-8 cups of broth (I do half chicken, half beef)
- 3-4 cups of white kidney (cannellini) beans and/or romano beans (dried or use two 19 fl oz cans)
Optional Ingredients (I suggest including at least 2-3 of these including a starch and at least one "green" for a rich, hearty soup!)
- 2 potatoes, chopped into small cubes
- 8 oz fresh pasta (e.g. tortellini)
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 6-8 carrots, diced
- 4-6 celery stalks, diced
- 2 zucchinis, sliced in half and chopped
- 6-7 oz of fresh, organic baby spinach
- 6-7 oz of button mushrooms, chopped
Flavourings (to taste):
- Fresh, chopped parsley
- Dried basil, oregano and/or thyme
- Salt & pepper
- Parmesan reggiano cheese, finely grated
Steps (Note - if you're not using a particular ingredient just skip this step):
1) In a large saucepan, saute the sausage on medium high until cooked through. Set aside.
2) Cook quinoa in a separate pot according to package directions. Set aside.
3) Saute the onion in the sausage grease (yum!) for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
4) Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes, continuing to stir
5) Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
6) Add potatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
7) Add carrots and celery and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
8) Add tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs. You know the drill - simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
9) Add zucchini, pasta, beans and cooked sausage. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
10) Add spinach. Simmer for about a minute, until spinach is wilted
11) Serve with parmesan reggiano, quinoa and salt/pepper to taste!