Italian sausage soup is a comfort food in many households. While there are as many variations of it as there are Moms in the kitchen, this simple version includes fresh Roma tomatoes, carrots, and escarole (or spinach). It is fortified with cannellini beans, orzo, and of course, garlic. Try this heart-warming meal in a bowl on a cold winter night or any day of the year.
I’ve also included directions for homemade garlic croutons made from fresh Italian bread. Use the herb butter mix for the best garlic bread ever. It’s easily multiplied.
It’s so easy to make that it almost seems silly to actually write it in recipe form. Yet, here it is in response to many requests from millenials. Mangia!
Italian Sausage Soup Recipe
For the Croutons:
2 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
2 slices artisan Italian bread
For the Soup:
1 medium sweet onion
1-1/2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausage links (preferably with fennel seeds)
3 to 4 large cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 cups (1 quart) chicken broth
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch square-ish pieces, divided use
1 large carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup orzo (Italian rice-shaped pasta — see Notes)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon celery salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 small bay leaf
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained
8 ounces escarole, torn (may substitute baby spinach, stem ends removed)
1/4 cup (about) shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish
To Make the Croutons:
Whisk together the butter, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, and onion powder. Spread one side of each slice of the bread with the butter mixture. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the buttered bread cubes to the pan. Saute, stirring and turning often, until the croutons are golden. Set aside.
To Make the Soup:
Peel the onion and cut it in half. Slice each half into 1/4-inch wedges, slicing from the top down to the root end.
Slice the sausages into rounds about 1 inch thick.
Place a Dutch oven or soup-pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and onions to the hot pan. Saute until the sausage begins to brown and the onions are opaque.
Add the chicken broth, half of the Roma tomatoes, carrots, orzo, oregano, basil, celery salt, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until the carrots and orzo are cooked al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the escarole, cannellini beans, and remaining half of the tomatoes. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the escarole wilts and the beans are heated through, about another 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with the croutons, Parmesan cheese, and chopped Italian parsley. Serve with a side salad for a full meal.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
• Resist the urge to add more orzo, because the orzo will suck up the liquid like a sponge, while the starch will also thicken the broth. If you increase the amount, you will end up with a very thick stew. Yet, some folks like it that way. The choice is yours, but I would not use more than a total of 1 cup at the very most.
• Rice may be substituted for the orzo.
• Eight ounces of escarole or spinach may seem like a lot, but one you add it to the soup, it reduces to almost nothing.
• Feel free to experiment with your favorite vegetables to create your own personalized version of Italian sausage soup.