Pasta Fagioli Soup

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Ingredients

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage (pork, turkey, or chicken), casings removed and crumbled
1 large sweet onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 24-oz can spaghetti sauce (Recommended: Hunt’s Garlic and Herb)
1 14.5-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 32-oz boxes chicken stock (Recommended: Emeril’s)
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 large celery stalks, sliced into pieces
¼ head of cabbage, chopped
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp sugar
½ pound penne pasta, or similar shape (regular or whole grain)
1 6-oz bag baby spinach
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Shredded romano or parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions

Preheat a large soup pot to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the crumbled sausage.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and no longer pink. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate, and drain the grease, reserving 1 Tbsp in the pan.

Add the onion to the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly opaque. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring the bottom of the pan while pouring, making sure to release all of the browned bits.

Add the spaghetti sauce and tomatoes, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the carrots, celery, cabbage, beans, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, sugar, and additional salt and pepper if desired.

Allow the soup to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are almost done, then add in the ½ pound of pasta.

Cook until the pasta is al dente, then add in the spinach and parsley.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is fully wilted into the soup. Serve, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkle of cheese.
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