Spring may be right around the corner, but I think there’s still plenty of “soup weather” left.
I love making a big pot of soup – no recipe required! It comes out different every time, but its almost always a hit. The only constant is that I start by sautéing plenty of onions and garlic. After that I may add a little meat (or not), lots of vegetables, seasonings according to whim and a couple quarts of homemade broth. Any leftovers in the fridge better watch out. They’ll probably get tossed in the pot too. If I want my soup creamy or a little richer I whisk in a can of coconut milk.
Some soups, though, like this rich and savory Minestrone Soup, do call for a recipe. My mom found the recipe in a Taste of Home magazine over 20 years ago, and its been a family favorite ever since. I pull out the recipe, because . . . who wants to mess up a family favorite, right?
Truth be told, I don’t really follow the recipe! I read it to make sure all the ingredients get on the grocery list and I remember to thaw enough broth. But, when soup-making time rolls around, I don’t measure much. 🙂 Extra carrots – great. Triple the basil – sure. A couple extra garlic cloves – of course. Use up the cabbage – why not? Forgot to buy cabbage – no problem!
Don’t like some of the ingredients on the label of sweet Italian sausage? Neither do I! Just buy plain ground pork (find a local farmer if you can) and season your own. Ground beef or chicken could also be used. Here’s what I mix in:
Italian Sausage Seasoning
(for 2 pounds ground pork)
- 2 teaspoons salt (I like Celtic Sea Salt)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
- 2 teaspoons sage
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar (optional)
- dash or two hot pepper
Mix spices into ground pork and combine well. You’ll probably have to use your hands. If you remember, do this a couple hours before you’re ready to cook the meat to give the meat time to absorb the flavors. If you forget, its okay – I don’t always remember either!
That’s what I usually mix in. However, if you happen to be in my kitchen some day, don’t get upset if I add something else or leave something out. That’s what makes cooking interesting 🙂
The fennel seed is the secret ingredient. You could probably skip the marjoram if you don’t have any, but you should definitely add fennel seeds to your grocery list!
Just like I do with another family favorite, Cheesy Beef and Rice, I usually triple the recipe but only double the meat. A triple batch makes enough to feed our family of seven 2 full meals with enough leftover for a couple lunch portions. Leftovers are even more delicious since all the flavors have had time to meld.
Time to get your grocery list out and prepare to make:
Rich & Savory Minestrone Soup
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (or season your own meat)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 small zucchini, sliced
- 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2½ cups broth
- 2 cups finely diced cabbage
- 1 teaspoon salt (more if your broth is unsalted)
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 14 oz. can great northern, cannellini or navy beans, undrained (if you cook your own beans, use 1½-2 cups with some liquid)
- chopped fresh parsley, optional
- Remove sausage from casings (if necessary), crumble and brown in large dutch oven.
- Add onion, garlic, carrots and basil. Stir and cook about 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, broth, cabbage, salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer about 1 hour.
- Add zucchini and beans and continue to cook about 20 minutes.
- Add parsley if desired and serve.