Easy Minestrone Soup
My friend, Rene', came for a visit this past Thursday. Knowing she likes anise (black licorice) flavored cookies, I whipped up a batch. These are Iced Anise Cookies. I've made the recipe just one time before and the recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, Cookie Madness. What's great about this recipe is that it calls for melted butter. This is good because, if you are like me, you might forget to set out butter ahead of time to soften so you can make cookies.
Iced Anise Cookies... I ate TOO many!
I sent some cookies home with Rene' but now I have had cookies in my house and I've been eating too many. They are so tender and soft and good and go great with coffee and tea (especially Earl Gray tea). Here's the link for the Iced Anise Cookies recipe.
Tonight I was feeling crummy from eating too much sugar so I decided to whip up some easy minestrone soup with lots of vegetables. I did not have a recipe to follow but I found everything I needed to make the soup in my refrigerator and in my panty. I even added in some zucchini; Rene' brought me some zucchini and some heirloom tomatoes from her summer garden.
Easy Minestrone Soup
approximately 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville brand Hot Italian sausage)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (I used an orange bell pepper)
a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
a heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
a heaping 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 jar (24 ounces) jarred tomato pasta sauce (I used Bertolli Organic Traditional Tomato & Basil)
1 carton (32 ounces chicken broth)
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 half of a zucchini cut lengthwise into quarters and then sliced into quarter circles
1 can (15 ounce size) dark red kidney beans, drained/rinsed
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I used corn, green beans, and carrots)
Optional: 4 ounces pasta (I used acini di pepe or "frog eye" pasta)
Optional: grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, cook and crumble the sausage until cooked through. Remove the sausage from the pot onto a plate lined with paper towels (to remove excess fat), reserving just a little fat in the pot. Saute the diced peppers and diced onions in the soup pot. While the onions/peppers are softening, add in the spices including the oregano, basil, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and sugar; stir to coat the onions/peppers with the spices.
After the onions/peppers have sauted for about 3 to 5 minutes (stirring occasionally), add in the tomato pasta sauce, chicken broth, and tomato sauce. Increase heat and bring to a boil. At this point, add in the cooked sausage, kidney beans, frozen vegetables (no need to thaw), and the sliced zucchini. Reduce to a simmer, cover pot with a lid, and allow to cook until vegetables are desired tenderness. (I did not let my soup simmer very long since I was making this for leftovers. I ate one bowl for dinner and the veggies were still rather crisp, but the veggies continued to soften as the soup cooled). Taste soup and add more salt, pepper, and/or sugar as desired.
If desired, add in a little bit of cooked pasta into each bowl of soup. I like to keep the pasta and soup separate, otherwise the pasta acts like little sponges when the soup is in the refrigerator and I end up with "gloopy" leftovers. Any small to medium sized pasta will do. The acini di pepe is a very small pasta and gets lost in the soup a bit. A small tube pasta such as "ditalini" would be perfect in this soup. Also, garnish each bowl of soup with grated Parmesan cheese when serving (if desired).
A nice hearty, healthy, tomato-ey, brothy soup, and the leftovers are great!