Let me preface this by saying that this is not an original recipe. It is however one of my family’s favorites and one that I get compliments on all the time. My mom’s family is Italian so I know what real Italian food should taste like and this is the real deal. The recipe was adapted from a book called, Italian Soup Cookbook by: Joe Famularo. It’s flavorful and hearty, the perfect bowl of goodness on a blustery day. Serve it with slices of crusty bread and you’ll have a table surrounded by smiles and full bellies.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed (I mostly use sweet Italian sausage because that is what my kids prefer but I’ve also made it with hot Italian sausage and it is delcious!)
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, core removed, diced (Trader Joe’s sells two in a package at a very reasonable price.)
2 medium to large sized onions, diced
4-5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
Salt, to taste
6 cups Quick & Easy Chicken Broth (you can substitute low-sodium store-bought chicken broth)
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup small pasta, cooked a minute or two less than indicated on the package directions (I like to use Farfalle or small shells)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Start by heating your oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the sausage until nicely browned. Make sure to break it up with a spatula or wooden spoon while it cooks. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate lined with paper towels.
Add the fennel, onions, garlic, parsley and fennel seeds. Season with salt and cook until the fennel and onions have softened but are still firm.
Add the sausage back to the pot. Add the chicken broth and turn up the heat.
Drain the liquid from the tomatoes into the pot. Cut the tomatoes into bite-size pieces and add them.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Add the beans and cooked pasta. Continue cooking for appoximately 10 minutes until the beans are warmed through. Taste and add additional salt if you desire. Serve steaming hot with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Mmmmmmm.
Tip: As always, I usually double this recipe so that I can freeze some for another night. If you decide to do this, portion out what you want to freeze prior to adding the pasta. The pasta will get very mushy if frozen in the soup. When you decide to eat it, cook some pasta while the soup reheats and add just prior to serving the soup.