Mrs. P’s Sausage Pasta Fagioli with Spinach

I am a major fan of pasta fagioli and have quite a few recipes in my repertoire.  Despite that, I am always happy to find a new one to add to my collection.

For the past few summers, both my daughters have worked at the pool of a local riding club.  When one of the members heard that I had started a recipe blog, she graciously contributed a recipe for pasta fagioli that her family has enjoyed for many years.  Her recipe falls into the category of Tuscan soups which are a favorite of mine because I love the combination of chicken broth, cannellini, spinach, and pasta.

Mrs. P’s version also calls for sweet Italian sausage, so a great soup got even better.  This is a hearty soup—serve it with a salad and some crusty dinner rolls, and you will be happily fortified.

All the wonderful ingredients blend deliciously in the savory broth and bring the Campbell’s soup ad tag line to mind—mmm, mmm good!

Mrs. P’s Sausage Pasta Fagioli with Spinach

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. bulk sweet Italian sausage (can use hot Italian sausage if you prefer)
  • 2 tbl. olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 5 cans chicken broth, 13 3/4 or 14 1/2 ounces each
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups (dry, uncooked) ditalini (chili mac) or tubetti pasta
  • 1 29-oz. can diced tomatoes including juice (I prefer the petite diced tomatoes)
  • 4 15- to 19-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
  • 10-oz. bag spinach, tough stems removed and leaves cut into 1″ wide strips or 10-oz. package of frozen spinach, thawed
  • Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

Heat large (I use 8-qt.) stockpot over medium-high heat until hot.  Add sausage and cook until browned, breaking up meat with wooden spoon.  With slotted spoon, remove sausage meat to bowl.

Reduce heat to medium.  In drippings and olive oil, cook onions until tender and golden, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute.

Add chicken broth and 2 1/2 cups water; over high heat, heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes (cook your pasta during this time—see below for further directions).  After you have finished simmering, add sausage, tomatoes with their juice, cannellini and spinach; heat through.

Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, cook pasta as label directs, but do not add salt to water and be careful not to overcook.  Drain pasta; set aside in storage container.  Add a drizzle of olive oil so that pasta does not stick together.  I always keep my pasta separate when it is an ingredient in a hot soup.  My normal practice is to cook enough soup so that we can have leftovers—and, if you add cooked pasta to a pot of hot soup, the pasta will become soft and mushy when you reheat the leftovers.  I prefer to keep the pasta separate so that it remains al dente.

When serving, add desired amount of pasta to individual bowls and sprinkle generously with Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Source:   Adapted from  a 1998 Good Housekeeping magazine recipe given to me by Mrs. P.

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