Wow. It’s 2014. I’m sure I’ll still write 2013 on my checks for approximately the next 11 1/2 months (am I the only one who still uses the archaic form of checks to pay for things??) but since time cannot be stopped, I think we should welcome in 2014 with this soup.
It’s healthy (did you see my sidebar link for 187 of my favorite healthy recipes?), hearty and so perfectly perfect for a snowy, cold January. I recognize not all of you live in a frozen tundra like I do; soup is mighty delicious in all weather, but I’m not going to lie, if you are eating this where the temperature is 5 degrees or higher, I hope you sweat profusely while you eat it. My warmer-weather-jealousy could be validated by this picture I snapped a few weeks ago on my way to church at 9:15 a.m. It pretty much speaks volumes:
I, for one, will drown my frosty sorrows in this soup and feel better about my harsh, Northern climate in no time. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I eat my way through January in order to cope with the blizzards, icy temps and general post-holiday blahs. Which basically means you’ll be getting some super awesome recipes this month (with a sprinkling of lighter, healthier food thrown in there, promise) and I’ll contemplate a rigorous exercise plan.
For a great, quick weeknight dinner, this soup cannot be beat. The simple flavors combine into a rich, hearty soup full of white beans, lean sausage, spinach and tiny little pasta shells. Something for everyone, I’d say. And talk about counting your colors; this soup is loaded with pretty vitamins. All joking* aside about drastic winter temps, this soup really is perfect for a cold, blustery night.
I hope you have a great start to the new year!
*I wasn’t really joking.
I prefer chicken or turkey sausage because it is lean; however, you could easily sub Italian sausage of another variety like pork just be sure to drain off the excess grease before adding the broth. Also, if you are not using low-sodium chicken broth, I would suggest decreasing the 1 teaspoon salt and adding to taste so the soup isn't overly salty.
- 1 pound sweet Italian chicken sausage (see note)
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion or leeks
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 (14.5-ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked shell pasta
- 9 ounces spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium heat (remove the sausage from the casings, if needed) until browned, 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. If your sausage is really lean, you may need to use a teaspoon or so of oil so it doesn't stick to the pan.
- Add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the sausage is cooked through, 5-10 minutes. At this point, if there is excess grease, drain it before proceeding.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper.
- Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shell pasta, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn't sticking.
- Stir in the spinach and simmer for another minute until the spinach is wilted. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.