Keeping up with the healthy diet for 2014? This Italian Vegetable Soup is packed full of healthy veggies and zesty Italian sausage. Served with a side of flaky, buttery biscuits and its the perfect meal on a cold winters day. Soup is delicious year round, no matter the weather, its a great way to use seasonal vegetables too!
What's great about soup, is that you can use any veggies you have on hand. It's also a great way to use veggies that are on their last leg. I pretty much use onions and garlic as a base in everything I cook. They bring such flavor to every dish and the smell of just those 2 ingredients sauteeing is heavenly. Fresh herbs are a key ingredient as well, added towards the end of cooking, they bring a brightness, not only in color, but in flavor too.
I love all things pork, especially sausage. It adds so much flavor to the dish rather than using plain ground meat. Here I'm using a sweet Italian sausage. Spicy sausage would add a nice kick to this soup, if you want it spicy. Heat a soup pan on high heat and add a touch of oil. Using kitchen shears, cut sausage straight into hot pot and brown on both sides, then remove from pan and set aside.
See all that nice caramelization on each piece? This will add alot of flavor when you add it back into the soup.
Next we're going to saute the onions, carrots and celery, for about 4 minutes, just until the onions become translucent.
Throw in the chopped garlic and combine, then it's time for some spices. I'm using 3 different spice blends, each one is going to add it's own flavoring. I use House Blend in everything, its the perfect all-purpose seasoning with salt, black pepper, garlic and red pepper. Rainbow Lemon Pepper is going to give it a zesty kick from the lemon peel and a little more pepper for spice. And the star spice is Super Tuscan Blend, which is full of Italian herbs and tomato powder which will add to the richness of the soup. Stir these guys in and cook for another 2-3 minutes, letting the spices marry with the onions and other veggies.
Rosemary is not as delicate as the parsley and thyme, so we want to add it in the beginning, so it has a chance to break down and release those woodsy flavors. The house is smelling so good right about now....
It's wine time! It's always wine time around here....a dry white wine will give it that extra layer of flavor. Pour in about a cup and scrape up all those brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
White beans, cannelini beans, navy beans, you can use any of these. I'm using navy beans, honestly, I don't notice the difference in taste between any of them, especially in soup, so I've used them all. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. I didn't have stock on hand (I know, its shocking!) so I used water instead. I wanted to show that you can still get great flavors by using different spice blends and fresh herbs. So about 6 cups of water, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for about an hour. If you taste it now, you're going to want to add salt, don't do it yet. Your going to add the sausage back in soon and you want it to absorb the salt from that first.
After about 45 minutes to an hour, add in chopped zucchini. The zucchini is a more delicate vegetable, so it doesn't need to be cooked as long, so it gets added later.
Now it's time to throw the sausage back in. Since it's already cooked, you want to add it in about 30 minutes prior to the soup being finished so it doesn't break down and you lose its texture. 30 minutes will give it time to mesh with the other flavors but still keep it intact.
Fresh herbs are a beautiful compliment to almost any dish. Fresh flat leaf parsley and thyme will bring brighten the soup and add another layer of flavor. Continue simmering an additional 30 minutes, then season to taste. You may want to add some salt at this point.
Topped with a little shredded Italian blend cheese and a buttered biscuit, you have the perfect winter meal!
ITALIAN VEGETABLE SOUP
|Prep Time: 10 minutes||Cook Time: 2 Hours||Difficulty: Easy||Servings: 4-6|
Heat soup pot on high heat and add olive oil. Using kitchen shears, cut sausage into pieces straight into pot and brown on both sides, then remove from pot.
Add onions, carrots and celery and saute until onions become translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in garlic, House Blend, Rainbow Lemon Pepper and Super Tuscan Blend and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add rosemary and combine well.
Stir in white wine and scrape up brown bits from bottom of the pan. Add white beans and tomatoes and stir together.
Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook for about an hour.
Add zucchini and sausage to soup and continue simmering another 30 minutes then taste and season with salt if needed.
Serve soup and top with shredded cheese.
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