Sausage Soup with Tortellini (and/or Beans)
This soup recipe is delicious as written, yet is flexible, too. If you don’t have zucchini, substitute green beans. For a gluten-free option, omit the fresh tortellini and use a can of your favorite beans instead. Alter the herbs based on what you have on hand. For added convenience, I often chop the veggies in advance and store in the fridge until it's time to cook dinner.

Yields 8 servings.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (may substitute sausage of choice)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about half a large; I often use red)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups reduced sodium beef broth (plus extra for thinning leftovers, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (a delicious addition, but may substitute extra broth)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced, fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 1/2-inch thick; halve or quarter slices according to preference)
  • 8 ounces fresh tortellini pasta (I like cheese-filled; see notes)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil (may substitute fresh parsley or add 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning with the thyme)
  • Parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. In a 5-quart soup pot or Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Remove the sausage to a plate and drain the excess grease from the pot, reserving about one tablespoon of the drippings.
  2. Over medium heat, sauté the onion in the drippings until just soft. Add the garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the five cups beef broth, wine, tomatoes with juice, carrots, tomato sauce, thyme, and reserved sausage. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in zucchini and beans. Simmer on low, partially covered, for another 20 minutes, adding tortellini during the final 10 minutes (see notes). You want the zucchini to be just tender, not mushy. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.
  5. Check for seasonings. Depending on type of broth and sausage used, you may not need added salt. The last time I prepared this soup, I used a 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  6. Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Notes

  • I like to cook the tortellini separately and add to the soup as served. This satisfies those avoiding carbs and gluten. Also, if there are leftovers, the pasta won’t continue to absorb the remaining broth. For ease–and one less pot to wash–you may certainly add directly to the soup, as described in the instructions above. Simply have some extra broth on hand to thin the leftovers, if desired.
  • As for the beans, they are a nice addition whether using the tortellini or not. If including the pasta, you may be satisfied with one cup. Any white bean or kidney bean works well. I recommend the whole can when serving without the tortellini.

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