I just got back from a trip to visit family and friends in Alberta. I would like to call it a vacation, but that it was not. Before moving to Wisconsin, I used to feel sorry for friends who needed to use vacation time to visit home. Their time during their “vacation” seemed so limited, like each and every minute was scheduled, with no free time. That was what my trip was like. Not that it was a bad trip by any means – I loved it! But now that I’m home, I feel like I can relax a little bit.
Believe it or not, I only cooked one meal (plus a couple of desserts) the entire 15 days I was gone. It was this Italian sausage soup. It is one of my standby recipes. It has a short ingredient list, all the ingredients are easy to find, it’s super fast and easy, and best of all – everyone loves it!
Do you have a list of standby recipes? You know, those ones that you make on at least a semi-regular basis, because they’re easy and you know everyone likes them? Maybe you even consider it a comfort food because you have it so often?
I especially love to make this soup when I buy one of those huge bags of spinach and I’m trying to use it up. All the other ingredients are easy to keep on hand at all times – dried pasta, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, Italian sausage and a few spices.
For the Italian sausage, you can use either pork or turkey sausage. The pork Italian sausage is much more widely available, but it produces more grease that you will notice in the finished soup. To minimize this, you can drain the sausage after it is done browning. After the sausage is browned, the remaining ingredients are added and simmered until the pasta is cooked. Then the spinach is thrown in, and when it is wilted, the soup is done.
The soup can be garnished with fresh grated Parmesan, but I also like to throw a Parmesan rind into the soup while it is cooking for extra flavor. Whenever you buy whole Parmesan wedges, keep the rinds in a freezer bag for making soups or sauces.
This soup is perfect for nights that you don’t have much time to make dinner, and it’s also great for cold winter nights that you just want something warm and delicious. Serve it with a salad and/or bread.
- 1 lb turkey Italian sausage
- 4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or 1/4 tsp dried basil 1/4 tsp dried rosemary and 1/2 tsp dried oregano)
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup uncooked whole wheat pasta
- 1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind or some grated Parmesan
- 5 cups baby spinach
Slice sausage casing down the length of the sausage. Remove casing. Brown the sausage over medium heat.
Add the chicken stock, tomatoes (with the juice), spices, pasta and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is done.
Stir in the spinach until it is wilted. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to do this in 2 batches. Serve soup with grated Parmesan if desired.
For the pasta use a smaller shape like shells, fusilli or macaroni