Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sausage Minestrone Soup with Orzo

Though I love to bake, and share many of my baked creations here, I do cook, too.  We eat most of our evening meals at home. In the summer we grill a lot. In the winter months we eat a lot of soup.  Soup is easy to make, can be made from almost any ingredients and usually results in leftovers for the next day's lunch or dinner. After Thanksgiving I made stock from the turkey carcass. I used the stock in this soup, as a substitute for the chicken stock. This soup is a favorite of ours, especially in cold weather.  We've been getting some much-needed rain in Northern California. This soup, cornbread, and a glass of wine made a great dinner!
The meaty flavors from the sausages really enhances the tomato-flavored stock. This makes a big pot of soup.  I shared with my neighbors, a co-worker and we had leftovers for dinner the next night.  It also freezes well.

Sausage Minestrone Soup with Orzo

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound hot Italian sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes
12 cups chicken stock
4 cups tomato juice
2 bay leaves
1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large summer squash, diced
1/2 cup dried orzo
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet or a roasting pan with parchment paper or foil.  Place the sausages on the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool on a plate lined with paper towels.  Cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. (It's important to cook the sausage separately so that there is not a lot of excess fat when you mix it into the soup).

Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, celery, and carrots.  Saute for 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, stock, tomato juice, bay leaves, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, and cooked sausage slices.  Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer for 40 minutes, adding more stock or water if too much liquid evaporates.  Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Add the zucchini, summer squash, and orzo.  Cook for an addition 10 minutes.  Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.

Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta.

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