Hearty Sausage Vegetable Soup

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.”
~Laurie Colwin

I’m not a Summer girl, despite the fact that I live down the street from the beach.  I can’t stand the heat, yet don’t want to get out of the kitchen, so it’s a conundrum.  Fall blows the humidity away, replacing it with crisp air, cool breezes and good hair days.  It is hard to imagine a place more beautiful than New England in the Fall.  Even the weeds turn color and look pretty.  I love the soups, stews, roasts, breads, crisps and pies that the season inspires me to yield.

The bones of this soup came from my friend, Fran.  This is no anemic soup.  You know, the kind that makes you want to sneak off to your local pizza parlor after dinner, so you munch a slice and feel like you ate something.  The broth is rich and loaded with hearty vegetables.  Now is the perfect time to make it, while you can still find good local zucchini and garden tomatoes.  My favorite sausage to use is hot fennel garlic Italian sausage.  As the soup simmers, the sausage imposes it’s seasonings on the broth, adding a complexity you can’t find in a can.  All you need is some crusty bread to round out a great Fall meal.

Hearty Sausage Vegetable Soup

1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press (or minced)
2 medium garden tomatoes, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1/2 small head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (10 ounce) cans beef broth
2 (10 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 1/4 cups red wine (or water)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (about 5 leaves)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup uncooked Ronzoni small egg bows (or other small pasta)
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling at serving time

Remove sausage from casings.  Brown in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven and drain.  Add onions and garlic; cook and stir until tender, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add all ingredients except pasta and Parmesan cheese.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes, add pasta and simmer 20 minutes longer, or until pasta is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6.

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