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Tuscan Sausage Soup with Shell Pasta, Spinach & White Beans

Mariel here. I happen to be one of those people that swears certain pasta shapes just taste better than others. Penne, rigatoni, cavatelli and orecchiete all top my list. Elbow macaroni and farfalle? Ehh, I could take ’em or leave ’em. I suspect it has something to do with their meager sauce-sopping abilities.

In any event, when I was assigned A Couple in the Kitchen for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was instantly attracted to their Tuscan Sausage Soup packed with “Conchiglie” since shell pasta rounds out my top five all-time faves on the shape list. Only after I made the soup – which is rustic, hearty and a fabulous lunch treat – did I realize the other reason I was so drawn to this dish: My mother whips up a similar Sausage, Kale and White Bean soup, which she shared on Feast a few years ago.

Oh well, it was certainly worth the repeat performance and I got a whopping 7 days of lunch out of my efforts and a full quart stowed away in the freezer, which will come in handy post-move next month. I’m also planning on making their Lavender and Blood Orange Olive Oil Shortbread, which look like the perfect springtime cookie, particularly if you’re planning a bridal or baby shower over the coming months.

This recipe makes a boatload of soup so come hungry, but it’s an absolute snap to prepare and I really didn’t change much at all, which is rare for me. Just be sure to whip out your biggest stock pot or you’ll be cooking in batches!

Tuscan Sausage Soup
Serves 12
Via A Couple in the Kitchen

Ingredients:
2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage – $8.00
3 carrots, peeled and chopped – $1.39
1 sweet onion, chopped – $1.03
4 cloves garlic, chopped – stock
3 quarts chicken broth – stock
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice – $3.58
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed – $1.78
1 tablespoon dried basil – stock
1-lb (16-oz) whole wheat shell pasta, uncooked – $2.29
8 ounces spinach leaves – $3.00
salt and pepper to taste – stock
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping (if desired)
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $21.07
Cost per serving: $1.75

Directions:
1. Remove sausage from casings and brown over med-high heat in the bottom of your largest stockpot. Crumble the sausage as you brown it.

2. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and saute until tender and starting to turn a bit golden, about 7 minutes.

3. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, pasta and basil. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and continue cooking until pasta becomes a bit tender, about 7 minutes.

4. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper, according to your preference.

5. Serve hot garnished with grated parmesan, if desired.