Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Celebrating National Pasta Day...Featuring Sausage-White Bean Minestrone

I'm so busy gearing up to leave for Foodbuzz Fest in San Francisco bright and early Friday morning that I haven't gotten into the kitchen much this week. I didn't want to leave you  without a fabulous recipe, though!  When I found out that today is National Pasta Day, I decided to dig back into the Weekend Gourmet archives and share one of my very favorite soups. This soup is hearty enough to be a complete meal in a bowl...and it tastes amazing! This is my take on Tyler Florence's Hunter's Minestrone, and it's chock full of beans, veggies, spicy sausage, and rigatoni. The soup is the real me!

This soup is simple enough to make on a weeknight if you buy pre-chopped veggies from the Produce department. It features bulk Italian sausage, white beans, and plenty of good-for-you veggies: tomatoes, carrots, onion, and celery. Add some pasta, fresh rosemary, and sage, and you’ve got a meal that will warm you up on the chilliest of Fall evenings! 

My tweaks to the original recipe are mainly because Michael isn't a huge fan of beans. So, I cut the amount of beans in half and upped the amount of sausage just a bit to account for that. I also added 1/2 cup of red wine along with the chicken stock. The wine gives the minestrone a fantastic depth of flavor that you just don't get without it. I also give each bowl a generous sprinkle of parm-reggiano just before serving.

Sausage-White Bean Minestrone
adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

Step 1:  Add 1 tbs. olive oil and 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage to a large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Cook until browned, breaking up the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Carefully drain off any excess fat. Turn the heat to medium and add the following ingredients: 1 finely chopped large carrot, 1/2 finely chopped yellow onion, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 3 grated cloves garlic. 

Step 2:  Give the veggies and sausage a stir to combine and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add 1 chopped sprig rosemary, 5 chopped fresh sage leaves, 2-3 bay leaves, and 1/2 cup red wine. Stir to combine.

Step 3:  Add 8 cups chicken stock, 1 can diced tomatoes (Red Gold is my preferred brand), one can drained white beans, and a handful of chopped Italian parsley. Bring the soup just to a boil, then lower heat to med-low. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes...but an hour is better if you have the time.

Step 4:  After the soup has simmered, add 8 ounces rigatoni. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. This gives you just enough time to make some crusty garlic-bread to serve on the side. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of parm-reggiano cheese. 

This minestrone is amazingly good...and it's the perfect way to get even non-veggie lovers to happily eat their veggies. As an added bonus, it's also full of such pretty colors. I especially like to dunk my garlic-cheese bread into the flavorful broth. If you're a bean lover, feel free to double the amount of white beans. As a bonus, any leftovers are even better the next day. Since it’s just the two of us at Casa Garcia, we're able to get two dinners from each pot…and lunch one day as well. 


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