Minestrone Soup

The weather has been unseasonably (yet welcomingly) warm as of late here in New Jersey. Chillier air made its way back today though, so what better to warm up than with a bowl of hot soup.  I have always loved minestrone but have never attempted to make it before.  After googling a bunch of recipes, this is what I came up with.  It involves infusing and layering flavors.  Don’t worry though – it’s not hard to do!

Start with the broth…

  • Pour 2 quarts of chicken stock into a large pot.
  • Slice a whole head of garlic in half.
  • Add to the stock.
  • Heat over high heat.
  • Bring to a boil and them reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes.  (This will infuse with broth with the garlic flavor.)
  • Strain the garlic out, and keep warm.

Next, start the pasta…

  • Boil some water.
  • Salt the water and add 1/2 pound of a short-cut pasta.  (I used tiny shells.)
  • You want the pasta to be underdone, so don’t cook the full time.  (It will continue cooking in the soup.)

Meanwhile, get started on the rest of the soup…

  • Remove about 1 pound of sausage from its casings.  (I used hot, but feel free to use sweet or a combination of both.)
  • Heat 1/4 cup of EVOO in a large skillet over medium.
  • Add 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, and about 8-10 sage leaves.
  • Let the herbs heat in the oil for about 3 or 4 minutes.  (This will infuse the oil with the herb flavor.)
  • Add the sausage to the oil.
  • Break up with a spoon and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.
  • While the sausage cooks, cut up 1 onion, 2 carrots, and 2 ribs of celery into chunks.
  • Add the vegetables to your food processor, and chop.
  • Add the vegetables to the browned sausage.
  • Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  (Remember to stir every now and then!)
  • Add 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, 2 small cans kidney beans, a bay leaf.
  • Add the garlic-infused chicken stock and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the soup.
  • Add some fresh chopped parsley.
  • Season with s&p.
  • Remove the bay leaf and the thyme and rosemary sprigs.

Serve with some toasted baguette.  I topped mine with some grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

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