This Best-Ever Hearty Minestrone Soup with Sausage is absolutely packed with rich flavor thanks to a few secret ingredients: Italian sausage, a whole head of garlic, loads of fresh herbs, & a parmesan rind. It’s seriously flavorful, extra-cozy, & super-satisfying.
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage (see Recipe Notes)
- olive oil, as needed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (one) 0.75-ounce pack “poultry blend” fresh herbs (or approx. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs fresh sage, & 10–12 sprigs fresh thyme)
- optional: parmesan rind (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 (one) 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 64 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 (two) 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded (approx. 2 cups packed)
- optional: 1 cup ditalini or short pasta of choice, cooked according to package directions
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: shaved parmesan, crusty buttered bread
- Brown the sausage: Add the sausage to a 7-quart Dutch oven or a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage for 5-7 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage into bite-sized crumbles as it cooks. Once browned, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate & set aside.
- Cook the aromatics: Turn the heat under the Dutch oven down to medium. The sausage should have rendered a bit of fat, but if you need to, add a splash of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots & celery to the Dutch oven. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Build & simmer the minestrone: Once the veggies are softened, add in the halved head of garlic, & the bay leaves, fresh herbs (I like to leave the herbs whole, using kitchen twine to tie all the herbs together into a little bundle for easy removal), & parmesan rind (if using.), crushed tomatoes & chicken stock. Stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer 20 minutes.
- Optional: Boil pasta: Meanwhile, as the soup simmers, you can boil some pasta if you’d like to add it to your minestrone. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta & cook to al dente according to package directions. Strain & set aside for serving.
- Finish the hearty minestrone soup: Once the minestrone has simmered, add the sausage back into the pot, along with the beans & kale. Stir to combine well. Cook an additional 5 minutes, until the sausage & beans are warmed through & the kale is wilted. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired – the amount required depends on the saltiness of the sausage & chicken stock, so be sure to taste & season as needed!
- Serve: Just before serving, remove & discard the bay leaves, herb bundle & parmesan rind. You can also remove & discard the garlic – but I like to carefully squeeze the cooked cloves of garlic out of the bulb & into the soup…so good! To serve, spoon some of the cooked pasta to the bottom of a large soup bowl. Ladle the minestrone over top. Finish with a sprinkling of grated parmesan & serve with crusty buttered bread as desired. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Sausage: The spiciness of a good spicy Italian sausage is great in this minestrone! You can definitely use a mild Italian sausage, if you prefer, or a turkey Italian sausage. Turkey sausage renders much less fat than a traditional beef & pork Italian sausage, so be sure to add extra olive oil as needed to brown the sausage & cook the aromatics in Steps 1-2.
- Parmesan rind:A parmesan rind is the tough outer edge of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, & it’s my absolute favorite soup season secret. Toss a parmesan rind into any cozy soup you make this cold season; as it simmers, it infuses a rich, parmesan-y flavor into the broth. It’s an easy way to add an extra depth of flavor to soups, stews, & sauces, especially when the recipe comes together quickly. Parmesan rinds are usually sold at cheese shops or grocery stores with a more curated cheese selection (I buy mine at Whole Foods). Store them in your freezer all soup season long!
- Storage, Reheating, & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: This hearty minestrone soup is incredibly make-ahead friendly – it stores so well & it’s one of those things that gets even better as it sits & its flavors meld together. Transfer the cooled soup to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat the soup on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: This hearty minestrone soup is also incredibly freezer-friendly. Transfer the cooled soup to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen tomato soup in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop.
- Reminder ⇢ Pasta Storage: If you made pasta for your minestrone, store it in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s so important to store pasta separately – if left in broth or stock for a long period of time, it will absorb liquid like crazy, which not only makes the pasta soggy when you reheat it, but also messes with the overall ratio of liquid in your soup.
- 15-Minute Meal Prep: All of the prep work involved in this recipe is chopping veggies. Chop them all in advance, storing in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to prep your soup, all you have to do is get cooking – seriously so easy!:
- Dice 1 large yellow onion, 2 medium carrots (peel as desired), & 2 ribs celery. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Destem & finely shred 1 bunch kale. Transfer to a zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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