I didn’t use to care for Minestrone. And that’s putting it mildly. I’d had a couple at restaurants that weren’t great and I never explored it further. What I had was kind of muddy and dull in flavor and that pasta in it? Ummm, no thank you! This recipe for Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans is the one that turned me around. If you’re like I was, it’s might be time to revisit Minestrone.
Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans was originally a Tyler Florence recipe, Hunter’s Minestrone, but I adapted it very slightly just to make it more do-able. Most importantly, I lifted the game-changing idea of cooking the Minestrone separately from the pasta and that left the soup so bright and vibrant. (And also super friendly to some of the lower carb diets because the pasta can be added to the soup or served on the side to be added if you wish!)
About Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans:
Cooking the pasta on its own is the game changeer for me and changed my whole attitude about Minestrone. The soup, itself, stays wonderful & flavorful and isn’t dulled down by the starchy pasta. The flavors stand out and each is like a note in a symphony. The Italian sausage, the veggies, the garlic, and the herbs flavor everything so beautifully and they just jump, each in turn…
And then the pasta is perfectly cooked and just al dente and combined with the soup is a beautiful thing! There’s no chance for that pasta to become bloated and mushy, which is a danger with Pasta cooked in the Minestrone; That was always the biggest turn off for me. And if you are watching your carbs and don’t want pasta at all? Just leave it out. Or maybe some of the family does and others don’t want pasta? It’s no biggie, everyone can decide how they want their serving.
Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans is just a bounty of soup. I love that Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans is just chock full of good for you veggies. Onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and sturdy greens and herbs. And then there are the Cannellini beans, and beans are touted by the World’s Healthiest Foods as being one of the best things you can eat. The Cannellini has pretty much the same profile as the Navy Bean. I know beans get a bad rap, sometimes, but your best defense? Eating beans regularly. Seriously.
Making Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans:
This is a pretty easy and straightforward recipe. Since the pasta is cooked on its own, the veggies are roughly chopped and then divided. Half are broken down in the food processor which adds some body to the soup which would be missing since starchy pasta isn’t cooked in the soup. The rest of the veggies are processed less, so they’ll be just like the “normal” diced veggies in the soup.
Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans does need a bit of simmer time, especially with the dried herbs, to blend all the flavors. And while this makes a huge pot of soup (it’s more, of course with the pasta) and the leftovers are great, it’s also a great soup to double and then freeze half. It freezes beautifully without the pasta and it’s ok to freeze with the pasta, too.
I like to serve my Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans with my Family’s Parmesan Garlic Toast. You can use actual Parmesan but we really like the way it gets all nutty and crunchy and toasty with the green stuff in the can. I know, it’s probably cray cray to admit that, but we do!
Saving Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans:
The Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans is one big pot of soup, and the cost for this soup was incredibly low for the volume of food it made, $3.87 for 12 servings. Keep costs down by shopping the specials and having your pantry and freezer full of sales priced ingredients, but even if you buy at off the shelf grocery prices, Minestrone won’t break the bank.
Your highest priced item is going to be the Italian Sausage. Look for great specials in the fall and chuck it in the freezer, where well wrapped it will keep well for several months. The next item that is potentially high in price is the greens – they’re usually not on sale in my area, but greens are usually going to the cheapest in the fall when they’re in season.
Basic veggies are a great item to pick up at Aldi, and items like carrots are usually cheaper per pound when bought in larger bags. Don’t let them sit in the bottom drawer in condensation. Turn them over now and then when you’re rooting around in there anyway. Pantry items like canned tomatoes always go on sale on a regular basis, usually hitting a low once a quarter. Stock up!
Cannellini beans might be pricier than others; watch all beans to go on sale after or around any holiday when ham is normally sold (often unadvertised.) Substitute cannellini with white or navy beans if you need to, and it’s always frugal to cook your beans from dried and divide into portions of about 1 1/2 cups and freeze. That’s about the same amount as in a 15-ounce can.
Winter Minestrone with Sausage & Beans
(Read instructions and note how vegetables are handled before preparing them for the recipe.)
- 8 ounces rigatoni or similar pasta, cooked al dente and drained
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces Italian sausage
- 4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned or whole canned tomatoes, crushed and the juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound cannellini beans, cooked, or (3 to 4) 15 oz cans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups sturdy greens, coarsely torn or chopped (kale or escarole)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion tops (plus additional for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- coarsely ground black pepper and salt to taste (about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of pepper)
- Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish
As the soup simmers, bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni. Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; if you are adding it to individual servings, it should be al dente, if you are adding into the soup, it should be slightly underdone.
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with a large spoon or wire potato masher as it cooks, until well browned.
Chop 1/2 the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor, almost pureeing them. Remove and chop the other half, leaving them a bit chunky. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add crushed garlic. Crush the dried herbs in your hand and add to mixture. Cook for about a minute.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, cannelloni beans, chicken stock, and greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When ready to serve, add rigatoni into the simmering soup or pass at the table so everyone can add their own. Add parsley or green onion tops and the vinegar to the soup. Add salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf.
Garnish with Parmesan, and/or additional parsley or thinly sliced green onion
- We like to keep the pasta on the side and add it to in our bowls as desired
- This soup has tons of flavor, even with the dried herbs, but don’t be dismayed if you taste it before the 25 minutes simmering time; it takes a bit of time for them to blend and flavor the soup. The salt and pepper and the vinegar make a huge difference at the end.
- If you use dried parsley, reduce the amount by about 1/4 and add in when you put the rest of the dried herbs in the pot.
Nutrition: Per Serving: 319 Calories; 12g Fat (32.9% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 22mg Cholesterol; 669mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
adapted from Tyler Florence