Uncle Jim’s Soup

Soup has always been an ultimate comfort food for me. But really, I have vivid memories from the three most important women in my life and their soups – so yeah, soup is a kiiiinda big deal to me hah. I remember my grandma making the best minestrone growing up. Then there’s the fact that my dad jokes how my Nonna’s soup could cure anything. And my mom? Well, her chicken/sausage tortellini soup is incredible! So when I married my husband and he tried to tell me he “didn’t like soup”? Yeah, its amazing I even gave him a chance after a comment like that but what can I say, young love. Who am I kidding – that comment made me DETERMINED to make him a soup believer!! (and for those of you wondering, mission accomplished…)

Years ago, my husband’s Uncle Jim made us a minestrone that just resonated with me. The flavors combined everything I loved about soup. I immediately got the recipe from him but over the years I’ve tweaked it and realized that I was tweaking it to be a combination of not only his soup but also have it take notes from all those incredible women’s soups too! 

We’ve discussed my type A, traditionalist views before… you all know I’m a little crazy, it’s fine. So when I saw Uncle Jim breaking up a couple lasagna noodles to add to his soup I thought he had lost it. Then I noticed he had used different types of small pastas and I thought all hell broke loose. But, after that first bite, I gotta admit – the different types of pasta made the soup that much more nostalgic and rustic. Ever since then, when it comes time to make this soup, I head to the pantry and grab a little bit of whatever pastas I have opened, along with a few lasagna noodles of course! There’s something about the surprise of which pasta you get with each bite that makes it more of an experience than just a meal. So my one demand – if you make this soup, ya gotta toss in a few broken up lasagna noodles, trust me.

PREP TIMECOOK TIMETOTAL TIME
10 min1 hr1 hr 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8ish fresh sage leaves
    • Don’t cut corners here and use dried herbs, the sage in this makes alllll the difference!
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage
    • We like to use hot sausage but sweet is also great! Make sure it’s loose and not in a casing – if it is, just cut down the casing and take out the meat.
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 2-3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • This will help elevate the flavor but if you don’t already have the spices or can’t get to the store, don’t stress. If you are heading to the store to buy these, fresh herbs are even better!!
  • 1 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, do NOT drain
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small yellow squash, diced
  • 1 small bag of baby spinach
  • 1/2 pound small pasta, mixed kinds
  • 3-4 broken lasagna noodles
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, for garnish

Directions

  1. Add olive oil and sage leaves to a large sauce pan, heat up on medium heat. After a few minutes, add sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage into small crumbles.
  2. After sausage is cooked through and no longer pink, add carrots, onion and celery and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add minced garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another minute or so making sure not to burn the garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and 1 bay leaf (thyme and parsley too if you’re using them) – simmer for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Discard the bay leaf and lower the soup to a medium-low heat (it should not be bubbling). 
  6. Add cannelloni beans to the soup – do not drain them! This will help thicken up the soup a bit! Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Add diced zucchini, squash and pasta to the soup. Cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Add the small bag of baby spinach. You may need to add a a little at a time, stirring until spinach begins to cook down. Trust me, seems like a lot but it will cook down and get MUCH smaller. Cook for five more minutes.
  9. Taste test each type of pasta to ensure they are all cooked before serving!
  10. Serve while hot – topped with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (and a side of warm bread if you’re reallllly going for it!). Enjoy!

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