I like to have the ingredients prepped before I start. You need to remove the sausage from the sausage casings. You can do this before you start or just as you begin to prepare this soup. It’s easy. I asked my youngest daughter to help me remove the sausage and she had a blast.
Peel and chop the onion, carrots and garlic. This is a soup with a lot of texture so you don’t have to chop it too fine. Really depends on your own preferences.
If you are using dried beans, you won’t be making this soup until tomorrow. You have to soak dried beans overnight and then cook them. If you are using canned beans, open them up and rinse them off in a colander.
If you are using fresh spinach, wash and dry it in a salad spinner and remove any tough stems.
Grate the cheese and chop the fresh basil and put on a pot of water to cook the pasta.
Start with the sausage. Heat a large soup or stockpot over medium high heat and brown the sausage until it is cooked through. Using a wooden spoon, break up any large chunks of sausage. This should take about 10 minutes.
At the same time you are cooking the sausage, start heating up the water for pasta. The trick is to have the pasta cooked and ready to go just as the soup is ready to serve. Depending on your stove and where you live the water takes 5 to 10 minutes to boil and then another 8 to 10 minutes to cook the pasta al dente.
A lot of fat will come from the sausage so I like to pour off most of it before adding the onions, carrots and garlic. Be sure to stir this combination while it is cooking so the ingredients don’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for five minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes, beans and dried basil if you are not using fresh. Otherwise, wait until the end to add the fresh basil.
Simmer the soup for another 10 minutes and then add the spinach and fresh basil. Cook for about a minute until the spinach wilts.
Take a spoonful of soup and taste for seasoning. Be sure to let the soup cool in the spoon before you taste otherwise it will be too hot for your taste buds to figure out what it needs. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon some pasta into your serving bowls, ladle in some soup and top with the grated Parmesan cheese. I like to serve some extra cheese in a separate bowl on the side for those who want more.
Serve with some French or Italian bread and you have yourself an incredible meal.