Minestrone Soup with Sweet Sausage
- 3 tablespoons EVOO
- 3/4 cup broken spaghetti or linguine
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk or cut from casing
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
- One 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
- 8 cups Chicken Poaching Liquid, recipe follows, or store-bought chicken stock
- 2 plum tomatoes
- A few sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
- A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and chopped
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to pass at the table
- Ciabatta rolls, for serving
CHICKEN POACHING LIQUID:
- One 4-pound whole chicken
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 carrots, quartered
- 2 ribs celery, quartered
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 large onion, quartered with root end attached
- A few black peppercorns
- A few stems fresh rosemary
- A few stems fresh thyme
Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the pasta and toast until deep golden, nutty and fragrant, then remove the pasta and reserve. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO and raise the heat a bit. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then transfer the sausage to a plate. Add the carrots, fennel, garlic and onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Return the sausage to the pot and add the beans and Chicken Poaching Liquid.
Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the tomatoes into the soup. Add the rosemary and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup to combine the flavors. Return the soup to a boil, stir in the toasted pasta and cook until al dente.
Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with the cheese. Serve with ciabbatta rolls.
Cook's Note: If you are not serving the soup immediately, cool and store it in the refrigerator before adding the pasta. Return it to a boil and cook the pasta as directed.
Place the chicken in a pot and add the bay leaves, carrots, celery, lemons, onions, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and some salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and poach the chicken for 1 hour. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and separate the meat into bite-size pieces. Strain the stock and reserve.