Hearty and Healthy Tuscan Soup
It has been freezing cold in these parts the past month or so and the upcoming week promises to be another chilly one - I don't think the daily high is going to get beyond the single digits (F) - brrrrrrrr!
When the colder winter weather settles in, I like to have a few good, hearty soup recipes in my arsenal to help me warm up from the inside out. This rustic Tuscan soup is probably one of my favorites and it is so incredibly easy to whip up.
You will need:
1 1/2 pounds of sweet Italian chicken (or turkey) sausage, casings removed A dash of hot pepper flakes (optional) 2 medium (I use large but then again, I love onion) yellow or Spanish onions, rough chop 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized bits 2 cans of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained 1 large container (or two) of chicken broth 2 or 3 cans of diced tomatoes (do not drain) 1 teaspoon of dried basil 1 teaspoon of dried oregano 1 large package of baby spinach, rinsed and dried Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Okay, let's get started, shall we? First off, grab a soup pot or a large dutch oven and toss in your sausage; over medium heat, cook until nicely browned and no longer pink. Here is where I sometimes like to throw in a tiny dash of red pepper flakes, just to give the soup the tiniest bit of heat. This is optional. Drain off any fat (or you can leave it in for yummy delicious flavor - your choice).Next, season your chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the sausage; sauté over medium heat until cooked through. At this point, move your chicken and sausage to the side of the pot and throw in your chopped onion and garlic - sauté until just tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This is a good time to use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and stir them in with your onions, garlic, and meats - it is just another delicious layer of flavor. Next, add in your beans, two tins of tomatoes, and one container of the chicken broth. You may want to add in more tomatoes or broth, depending on how soupy you like your dish... Toss in your basil and oregano, stir it all together, lower the heat and simmer for twenty or thirty minutes. When you are ready to eat, place a good handful of your baby spinach into each soup dish and top with a generous amount of soup. The heat from the soup will wilt the spinach nicely and because you haven't added the spinach to the actual pot of soup, it will keep its lovely green color!
Top with a spoonful (or two) of your freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and serve with some crusty bread and your favorite glass of wine. I promise this is so good that your bowl will go from looking like this...
...to looking like this: