Mediterranean Pasta Soup
Tangy lemon peel, thyme and Italian sausage flavor this variation of classic minestrone. Garnish the hearty cold-weather soup with chunks of fresh tomato and, if you like, shredded Swiss cheese.
1/4 pound mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried small white beans
3 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup dry small pasta shells
1 medium-size tomato, cut in to 1/2-inch cubes
Shredded Swiss cheese (optional)
- Crumble sausage into a 4 to 5-quart pan. cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until lightly browned.
- Add onion, garlic, thyme and pepper; cook, stirring often, until onion is light golden, about 6 minutes.
- Rinse and sort beans, discarding any debris; drain. Add beans, broth and lemon peel to pan. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender to bite, about 2 hours.
- Add carrots, celery and pasta to broth mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables and pasta are tender to bit, about 15 minutes.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with tomato and, if desired, sprinkle with cheese.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.