(New Years day, 2013) While watching his beloved Stanford Cardinal lose in the Rose Bowl, our friend declares, “this is the best soup I’ve ever had.”
(I can’t remember the specific below zero windchill day in the month of February, 2014) My fiance came in from the cold to find this soup cooking. He consumed it. He smiled, then he DIDN’T complain about the weather.
(Two weeks ago) I was tense. I made this soup. I ate it. I relaxed.
This soup has powers. Powers that can change your state of mind. Make you forget about your team losing a big game. Make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, even on the worst of days. Make you involuntarily exhale an audible “Mmmmm” after your first spoonful. Make you relax away the days tension in your shoulders and jaw. Make you smile.
Doesn’t take long to make. Doesn’t take long for the robust aroma to permeate your kitchen. Doesn’t take long to realize … This soup is powerfully, comfortably, so very … good.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, cleaned, ribs removed and diced
- 1 28oz can chopped tomatoes in juice
- 2 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 boxes fat free chicken broth (8 cups)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 sprig rosemary, left whole (I have a rosemary plant on my windowsill. Rosemary can easily left out if you do not have it readily available)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 lb dried pasta (I used medium shells)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, plus more for garnish, chopped
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Additional chicken broth, if needed
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook for 6-8 minutes until no longer pink while breaking up the sausage into bite sized pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Add onions, celery, carrots and red bell pepper, and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant.
Add tomatoes, beans, chicken broth, oregano, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. (Note: Cook the soup at this stage for as long as you can. Sometimes I let the soup simmer away for several hours.) During the last 10 minutes of cook time, add kale and cook for 10 minutes. Remove rosemary stem and adjust seasoning for salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup fresh parsley.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
Add the cooked pasta to the soup pot, simmer for a few minutes, and ladle into bowls. Top with Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.
Note: If you plan to have leftover soup to eat later in the week, do not add the noodles to the soup pot. Instead, add 1/2 cup cooked pasta to individual bowls and ladle pipping hot soup on top. (When noodles are added straight to the pot, they will adsorb the broth and leftovers wouldn’t be much of a “soup” anymore.)