Shorter days. Cooler nights. Throwing on an extra layer. Leaves turning. It’s fall. And in my house, that means one thing: Soup Season.
I’m fully convinced that anyone who says they can’t cook should start with soup. It’s so forgiving and such a confidence booster. It gets better with time. It’s comforting and cozy. It fills you up without weighing you down. It’s everything you want in a friendship…in a bowl.
I know this recipe seems like it involves a lot of chopping and several steps, but if you plan ahead a bit this can become a weeknight staple for you, too. I like to chop the vegetables ahead of time and store them in jars in the fridge (put the carrot, onion, celery and garlic in one container, the zucchini and bell pepper in another). I’ll often roast a couple of sheet pans of potatoes and serve them as a side dish (my toddler loves them) or baked into egg muffins, reserving 2 cups for this soup later in the week.
My non-negotiables here are the hot Italian sausage (although you could use mild if you are spice averse), really good quality chicken stock and marinara. But the rest is really flexible. Add kale. Sub sweet potatoes for white. Change up your peppers. Use a teaspoon of dried herb seasoning if you don’t have fresh herbs. Toss in some cooked beans. Because this soup is about to become your best friend.
Hot Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup
High-quality chicken stock is the key to making a good soup great. Making your own is the most cost-effective way to get wonderful stock, but otherwise buy the best you can find.
1 lb hot Italian sausage (if you buy it in casings, remove them)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cups diced red or yukon gold potato
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tsp minced fresh sage
(or – replace fresh herbs with 1 tsp seasoning mix, such as Turkey Herbs from Golden Fig)
32 oz chicken stock
16 oz water
1/2 cup marinara sauce (either homemade or from a jar)
parmesan rind (optional)
dried bay leaf
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and spread out the potatoes. Toss them with about a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast, until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook through, about 10 minutes, breaking it up into small chunks as it browns. When the sausage is fully cooked, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon. Put it into a bowl and set aside.
Deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup of chicken stock (pour the stock into the pot and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon). Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pot, stirring frequently until slightly tender, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the herbs (except parsley) and stir to combine. Add the zucchini and red pepper. Stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the remaining chicken stock, water, marinara sauce, bay leaf and parmesan rind. Simmer on medium low for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and sausage and simmer for another 20 minutes. Check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
Remove the bay leaf and the parmesan rind and discard. Top each bowl with some chopped parsley and serve.