As I mentioned recently, I have definitely been on a soup kick lately. When my friends and I got together for our baking day last week, my friend Sarah brought a pot of this soup for us to have for lunch. It was fantastic! I asked her what recipe she used and it turned out to be this one, a recipe I have had bookmarked to try for months. That was the push I needed to finally try it myself. This is a wonderfully hearty soup, perfect for the awful cold weather and snowy days we have been having lately. It is similar to a vegetable soup, but the addition of Italian sausage and pasta puts it over the top – YUM! The only issue I had with this was that it really pushed the limits of my 5-quart Dutch oven. I was still able to stir the soup, but only very carefully. Obviously, this makes a huge quantity. I considered halving it, but what am I going to do with leftover half-cans of beans? I decided to just make the full batch and freeze half for my brother Steven, since I always worry about what he is eating now that he has his own place. I like to try to help him get better meals than the average college student :)
2 tbsp. butter, divided
1 (20 oz.) package sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
48-64 oz. reduced-sodium beef broth (depending on how much liquid you would like)
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. small dry pasta (such as ditalini)
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage to the pot and brown, crumbling as it cooks. Once the sausage is browned, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and discard any excess grease.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, and saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft, 8-10 minutes. Return the sausage to the pot, add the can of diced tomatoes with juices, stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the beans, beef broth and tomato sauce to the pot. Add in all of the seasonings, stir well, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer at least 30 minutes.
Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Serve.