Soup’s on! Spend time with friends, not at the stove
Sausage, vegetable and bean soup is a tasty, comforting meal that can be made ahead of time and feed a crowd. | Melissa Elsmo~For Sun-Times Media
Sausage, Vegetable and Bean Soup for a Crowd
This warming soup will easily feed a crowd, but you can cut the recipe in half or freeze the leftovers. To make it as comforting as possible, I like to use indulgent Italian sausage when I make this soup for guests. If I am making it for my family during the week, I substitute ground turkey or chicken for a healthier choice. For best results, make this soup the day before you plan to serve it.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds bulk Italian sausage (hot, sweet or a combination) or ground turkey
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 leeks (white part only), cleaned, quartered and chopped
1/3 pound green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1” pieces
1 medium zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 medium yellow squash, quartered and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6-7 cups reduced sodium chicken, vegetable or beef broth
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional)
1 (14.5 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
Cooked orchiette pasta and grated Parmesan cheese for finishing.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot until shimmering. Add the sausage to the pot (season with a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired) and break it up into large chunks with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When the meat is nearly cooked through, add the carrots, celery and onion. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the leeks, green beans, zucchini and squash to the pot and cook stirring occasionally for an additional 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the tomatoes, broth, basil, bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the soup for 1 hour. Take care to skim the fat as you go. Adjust seasoning, cool and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and discard the solidified fat from the top of the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the garbanzo and cannellini beans and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the Parmesan rind, mix in the chopped parsley and serve over a bit of cooked pasta and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
MEL’S QUICK KITCHEN TIPS:
Pristine Pasta: Pasta releases starch when it cooks and can quickly over-thicken soups. To make matters worse, pasta breaks down rapidly in broth making for lackluster leftovers. To prevent this common kitchen disaster always cook and store noodles separately from soups (especially chicken noodle). Place a portion of cold, perfectly-cooked pasta directly into soup bowls; ladling hot soup over cold noodles will warm them through in an instant without affecting the texture and thickness of lovingly prepped soups!
Regarding the Rind: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is expensive and it is tough to see any bit of it go to waste. Rather than discard the hard Parmesan rind, hang on to it and use it to lend savory flavor boost to a myriad of dishes. Slow-cooking the rind aids in developing complex flavors. Simply toss the rind into simmering red sauces for pasta, minestrone soups, or bean-based dishes like the recipe included here and fish it out before serving.
Updated: October 9, 2012 5:14PM
Just as a bowl of piping hot soup has the power to comfort physical ailments, a good girls night offers its own unique brand of satisfaction.
I am among the first to forget to nurture myself through sharing time with my girlfriends, but something about the start of fall always forces me to pause and plan an honest-to-goodness ladies night.
Last weekend I hosted a festive and fun-filled girls night out to celebrate the onset of autumn and the easy camaraderie between women. We took in a hilarious improv show at Open Door Theatre and walked back to my place for some late night sausage soup and assorted antipasto. Hosting 20 women can seem daunting, but throwing a party without having to worry about any last-minute details means having the freedom to focus on your friends. Most soups can be made a day in advance and require little to no finishing work outside of reheating. Once the soup is warm all you need is a ladle to pull the party together. If you’re worried about having an adequate number of dishes, encourage guests to bring their own mugs and spoons to ensure everyone has an appropriate vessel for their dinner.
I am constantly surprised how energized and confident I feel after I host a ladies night. Women spend tremendous amounts of time nurturing others and deserve to take a few moments to delight in each other’s company. So put the soup kettle on and give it a go! You won’t regret it.