This is a great soup base, vary with different vegetables, beans, different varieties of Al Fresco sausages, raw or pre-cooked. Makes a huge amount. V8 juice is labeled gluten free.
I know February should be Super Bowl or Valentines but with the frigid temperatures and snow many of us as experiencing, it’s time for warming, comfort food. We tend to hibernate in NE in the winter so this helps.
In Italy, Minestrone basically means vegetable soup and the ingredients vary from region to region and season to season. I was always put off making Minestrone years ago because I hated the thought of all the chopping involved. Also, most Minestrone soups include cabbage and even though I really like cabbage, I can’t always face it in soup. So this is a combination that my family like. You can add a variety of other vegetables according to your likes and the season, but I find I normally have these ingredients in the house. This makes a large pot of soup (about 20 cups), and I normally serve it on a Wednesday or Thursday night and then have the rest for lunch at the weekend, or freeze it.
By mistake one time I bought turkey sausage that had fennel but didn’t say it on the package and it was just too much for us. You will also note that I have not added additional herbs or other seasonings. Try it plain the first time and then decide whether you want to add 1-2 tsp Italian seasoning, or dried basil or a lot of fresh basil at the end. I normally find that we don’t need salt in the soup because the sausage, tomatoes and V8 provide enough salt for our tastes. I did discover that seasonally Pastene market a 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes labelled ‘San Marzano’ which are meant to be one of the top tomatoes from the Naples area of Italy. They certainly don’t have hard cores or other ‘bits’ and are meant to be not as acidic. Chop the vegetables to your choice of size. I like them all to be roughly the same size and then you can fit several veggies on a spoon together.
- approx. 1 lb (500g) of gf italian sausage – pork or turkey, hot, sweet or with fennel – your choice. Slice through the casing and peel like a banana.
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped, 2 cloves of garlic (or more), peeled and finely crushed
- 2 large carrots (or equivalent) peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2”pieces
- 4 stalks of celery hearts or 2 stalks of full length celery, washed, trimmed, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2” pieces.
- 1 x 28oz (794g) can plum peeled tomatoes in juice
- 2 medium size zucchini/summer squash/courgette, washed, trimmed, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2” pieces
- 6 c (48 oz, 1440 ml) water,
- 1 x12oz (340ml) soda can size of V8 vegetable juice
- 1/4 c (60 ml) gf tomato ketchup
- 1 c (4 oz, 125g) uncooked gf elbow macaroni or other small pasta, or rice or quinoa.
- 1 x 11 oz (311 g) can sweetcorn
- 1 x 14 oz (440g) can kidney beans, pinto beans or chickpeas to your choice, drained and rinsed
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add sausage removed from skins, stir, breaking up with a spoon into small pieces. Turkey sausage will fry without oil in a non-stick pan but you will need to add about 1 c of water or some oil to a stainless steel pan to prevent the meat sticking.
2. Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots, Stir well and allow to cook for about 5 minutes until starting to soften.
3. Add can of tomatoes, crushing whole tomatoes between your fingers as you add them. Add water, V8 juice, pepper and tomato ketchup. Bring to the boil, cover and turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
4. Add zucchini, corn, beans and macaroni, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and let stand for about 15 minutes. Taste and either add herbs and other seasoning now or wait until everyone has had a bowl of soup. This is a very thick soup, so add some additional water or stock or sneak in some milk if you like.
6. Serve with some pesto swirled in if you like, some grated parmesan, or grated fontina – a tasty melting cheese with more flavor than mozzarella.
Add rice instead of pasta, vary the pasta, try spinach, artichokes, green beans, potatoes, cabbage, leeks, lettuce and fresh herbs. In other words whatever is to hand and you think would taste good. Add beef or chicken concentrate or stock instead of water to strengthen flavor
This soup will vary every time you make it. There is a great difference in taste between the different brands of Italian sausage as well as sweet versus hot sausage. All were excellent.
My February 2014 monthly recipe for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.