Friday, August 28, 2009

Minestrone Soup

There's a good reason that many of my homemade dishes don't taste the same from one time to the next. That reason has to do with my recipes. Take, for instance, my original recipe for minestrone soup. Here it is, word for word, straight from my recipe box:

  • Saute: sausage, onion, celery
  • Add: stock, tomatoes, carrots, lima beans, zucchini
  • Season with: parsley, sage, garlic

That's it ... the entire recipe. No quantities, no ideas on whether to chop or dice, no timing. So, as you can tell, I have my work cut out for me when I put something in writing here. I try to get as specific as I can, so that you can exactly re-create what I've heretofore been guessing at. Go figure! So, I usually get out my measuring cups and spoons, and measure after I've done my cutting and chopping. This particular recipe is based on a soup I had in an Italian restaurant. It's a showcase for summer's vegetables, and is only as good as the sausage and vegetables you put into it. So, go for the gusto and use the freshest and tastiest you can find. As you can tell, quantities don't need to be exact, and can easily be varied to make your own tastebuds happy.


  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup sliced celery
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 pound peeled, chopped tomatoes, or 1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup lima beans, edamame, or cannelini beans
  • 1/2 cup small zucchini, ends removed and sliced
  • 1 Tbs fresh Italian parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage leaves
  • 4 tsp. shredded Parmesan cheese


Saute the sausage in a saute pan or heavy bottom soup pot, breaking it up into smallish pieces as it browns. Remove sausage from pan and drain fat. Add olive oil to pan, then saute onion, garlic, and celery. Transfer sausage and cooked vegetables to a soup pot (this is simply a pot large enough to hold the soup) and add chicken stock through sage leaves. Cook until vegetables are tender and flavors have melded together. Ladle into bowls and top each bowl with 1 tsp of the Parmesan cheese.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Even with low sodium stock, you probably won't need to add additional salt to this soup. If you can't find the low sodium variety of chicken or vegetable stock, use just 2 cups of stock and 2 cups of water. This will lower the sodium in the dish. The small of amount of cheese on top has a salty taste to it, so you'll never miss the salty taste we've all come to expect in our soups.

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