I don’t know about everybody else, but after the week-long junk food bonanza also known as Halloween, my body is craving something a little more wholesome. Does anyone remember vegetables? Yeah, I know, it’s been so long that I can hardly remember them…
Sara and I have talked a lot about finding “the one.” For years, I searched for the perfect Minestrone recipe. Time after time, they all just came out pretty flavorless and a little bit flat, like they were just missing something. Finally, I tried the Minestrone recipe from this cookbook. And it was exactly what I was looking for. Wanna know what the secret ingredient is? Canned, condensed, cheap-o Bean with Bacon Soup. It’s so diluted that you can’t actually taste its Bean with Bacon-ness, but it adds a richness and slight smokiness to the soup that is fabulous.
Since I can’t seem to make a recipe without tweaking, I added some zucchini and an extra can of beans. The zucchini addition is optional, but I think the extra can of beans is important, especially since there isn’t any pasta in this soup. Also, this soup is good the first night, but it is fabulous as leftovers. If there’s any way to make this ahead of time, let it chill, and then re-heat it, I HIGHLY recommend you do that. It is THIS very thing that makes this a great freezer meal; just prepare the soup entirely, allow it to cool, and then freeze it in a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to eat it, just place the frozen soup in your Crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves minced garlic
4 c. water
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1-2 small zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 can beef broth
1 10-oz. can bean with bacon soup
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Remove casings from sausage and crumble the meat. In a large soup pot, brown Italian sausage with onions and garlic. Carefully drain, if necessary. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and breadsticksor French bread.
Additionally, you can make this in a slow cooker. Just brown the sausage, onion, and garlic in a frying pan, drain, and then transfer to a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and cook all day on low.
Freezer Instructions: Cook sausage, onions, and garlic and drain if necessary. Place in a large Ziploc bag or large freezer-safe container. Add remaining ingredients. When ready to cook, Place contents of the bag in a large slow cooker and cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 6-8.