ITALIAN PASTA AND BEAN SOUP WITH SAUSAGE
Note: Pasta e Fagioli — Italian pasta and bean soup — becomes a meal-in-a-pot with the addition of sweet sausage and fresh spinach. Using canned beans speeds up cooking. From “Good Housekeeping Cookbook Sunday Dinner Collector’s Edition.”
• 1 lb. sweet Italian-sausage links, casings removed
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
• 1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes
• 2 (14 1⁄2 oz. each) cans chicken broth (3 1⁄2 c.)
• 2 c. water
• 3 (15 to 19 oz. each) cans Great Northern or white kidney (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 rounded cup small macaroni
• 5 oz. spinach, washed and dried very well, tough stems trimmed, and leaves cut into 1-in.-wide strips
• Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional
Heat a nonreactive 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Add sausage and cook until well browned, breaking up sausage with the side of a spoon. Transfer sausage to bowl.
Reduce heat to medium; add oil to Dutch oven. Add onions and cook until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with side of spoon.
Add broth and 2 cups water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add beans and heat to boiling; cover and simmer 15 minutes longer. Add sausage and heat through.
Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, cook pasta as label directs, but do not add salt to water; drain.
Just before serving, stir spinach and cooked pasta into soup. Serve with Parmesan, if you like.