Sausage, White Bean and Spinach Soup

January 22, 2013

Sausage, White Bean & Spinach Soup

Sausage, White Bean and Spinach Soup

Last week when cleaning out some of the clutter in my pantry, I ran across this recipe that I hadn't filed away.  I've only made it once so I had forgotten how delicious and EASY it is!

Luckily,  my guys don't mind eating Campbell's Tomato Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup occasionally, but I don't eat canned soup at all; mainly because it has WAY too much sodium for me.  I absolutely love making homemade soups but since most of us don't always have that much time, it's nice to have a few quick and easy, family-pleasing recipes on hand to make on those busy days.

This recipe is very similar to the Hearty Chicken Italian Sausage Soup recipe that I've made a couple of times but for some reason, my family really loved this soup.  Anytime I can make something this easy and have the family rave about it, I am one happy camper!

I doubled the amount of sausage from what the original recipe called for and also added three times the amount of spinach, so each spoonful was just perfect! 🙂


Sausage, White Bean and Spinach Soup
(adapted from Cooking Light)

5 turkey Italian sausage links
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2  c. water
1 15 oz. cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
6 cups baby spinach
3 T. chopped fresh basil

Remove sausage from casings. Heat oil in large saucepan and cook sausage in the oil until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion and garlic to pan, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in water, beans, tomatoes, and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook for another five minutes or so until soup thickens slightly.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach and basil. You can top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Note: If you've got big grown boys who don't necessarily consider soup a main course, I made a pound of pasta shells on the side and let them add pasta to their bowls to make the soup a little heartier.

BigSis' Vegan Twist: This is an easy one! I'd use veggie broth instead of chicken, and just leave out the sausage. Since I'm a kale freak, I might use it in place of the spinach. I love it in soups. On top of being a nutritional powerhouse, it adds a lot of texture, whereas spinach gets more wilty.

I bought the new Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds recently, and to me they have more of a parmesan vibe so I bet they would be tasty sprinkled in this dish. I think this soup sounds awesome, and I'm trying it soon!


Hearty Chicken Italian Sausage Soup

October 24, 2011


(Once again, I didn't have time to ladle any of my soup into a pretty bowl to photograph it because I had two hungry guys hovering over me with bowls and spoons in hand. One of these days, I'll plan better so I can take photos without my guys around.)

For any of you working women or busy moms driving kids to and from activities all afternoon, here's a super easy and healthy soup that I think your families will love.

I first got the idea for this sausage soup from a recipe I saw on the side of a Premium cracker box but I altered it so much, it doesn't even slightly resemble the original recipe. Here's my version.

Hearty Chicken Italian Sausage Soup

1 lb. chicken Italian sausage (I use Trader Joe's.)
1 shallot
3 or 4 cloves of garlic (I love a lot of garlic, you can use less.)
1 tsp olive oil
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 – 2 cups water (Increase amount of water if you want to increase quantity of pasta.)
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 c. fusilli pasta (I prefer this pasta over rotini.)
1 bag baby spinach leaves, washed

Cook sausage, shallot and garlic in olive oil in large saucepan for about 10 minutes, or until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Add the broth, the water, and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in the beans and the spinach and cover. Let stand 5 or 10 minutes and serve with crackers or toasted baguette bread.

(Note: one thing that HayHay mentioned is that he would like this better if it had less beans. He didn't like the texture of too many beans with the pasta and I did agree. The original recipe called for one can of beans for 1 c. of pasta but I since I used 2 c. of pasta, I used 2 cans of beans; but it wasn't necessary. Next time, I'll use two pounds of sausage to make it a little heartier and only one can of beans.)

Like I said, this is a super quick and easy soup, perfect for a busy week night, and my family loved it! 🙂


Super Speedy Mexican Vegetable Stew

August 12, 2010

Being single and eating my biggest meal of the day before noon, it's really easy for me to skip dinner or to just have a handful of almonds.  I try to eat intentionally though, and skipping dinner doesn't set me up for a very energetic morning.

I have a solution that works for me, even in the summertime when you don't automatically think of something warm.  How about a one-pot stew/soup dish that's inexpensive, nutritious AND super speedy?  I got it for you.  It's so simple, I don't even need to give you an official recipe; I can just tell you how to do it in a few words.

Take 5 cans from your pantry, and don't feel bad that you're using cans!  You need a big can of fire-roasted tomatoes (diced or crushed), a small can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilis (similar to Rotel but I think much better!), a can of green beans, a can of red kidney beans and a can of corn.

Vegetable Stew Cans

Open all the cans, and dump both tomatoes into a large saucepan and turn the meat to medium.  Fill the small can with water and add that.  Then add whatever mexican seasonings you like to the tomatoes and simmer for few minutes.  I used garlic powder, cumin, chile powder, dried cilantro, shallot pepper, salt and a touch of dried chipotle.

Bring the tomatoes to a boil, and then add the drained corn and green beans, along with the kidney beans that have been drained and rinsed.  You don't want that nasty bean juice.  Heat until the vegetables are heated through.  Voila!  You're done!

I like to serve my stew with dairy-free cheese (Daiya) and sour cream (Tofutti).  My diced tomatoes with chilis were pretty potent so I didn't even need any Frank's Red Hot Sauce!

Vegetable Stew Bowl

In this one bowl, you get nutrients from the veggies, plus protein from the beans that will keep you full for a good long time.  Use whatever veggies you have, and feel free to add other goodies like mushrooms, onions, and chili peppers.  Hatch chilis are almost in season and they would be incredible in this.

I'd say this is a much better dinner than a few sorry nuts!  😀


Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

May 18, 2010

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

Around this time of the year, there are usually signs of Spring in the air, right? I guess it all depends on where you live because May can bring some strange weather in some parts of the country.  I remember our last year in Upstate New York, it actually snowed on Mother's Day and I had already planted my herb garden. I was not a happy camper. That had obviously never happened to me in Texas. Not that Texas has fantastic Spring weather either; humidity, thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, you name it.

For us here in Southern California, May and June are the only two dreary months of the entire year. We call it May Gray/June Gloom because for most of the day we're covered in the infamous Southern California “marine layer.” So far this month, we've had our fair share of foggy, gray days. We haven't see the sun at all for about four days now.

I'm not complaining, though, I promise! 🙂

You don't have to tell me how spoiled we San Diegans are when it comes to weather; I know it. I consider us extremely lucky to be able to live here where it's perfect weather almost year round.

So, are you wondering why the heck I'm talking about the weather instead of the soup? Well, with no sunshine during the days, we are still having some pretty cool nights here; in the low 50s. That's why I'm still in the “soup making” mode instead of in my Summertime salad mode.

I don't make too many Rachel Ray recipes, but yesterday I was in the mood to make homemade soup for dinner and I didn't want to spend hours making my usual chicken vegetable soup. The dreary gray days can put me in a little bit of a funk and yesterday, I wasn't in an energetic enough mood to start with a whole chicken and have to deal with de-boning it.

I bookmarked this recipe when I first saw it on Taste and Tell because I knew it would come in handy on a night when I wanted to make homemade soup but something a little quicker and easier than some of my recipes.

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup
(adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray February 2010)

Two 32-ounce containers low sodium chicken stock
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast (I used chicken tenders)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup orzo pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. baby carrots, finely chopped
1 cup sliced Shitake mushrooms
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup frozen edamame
1 cup frozen corn
1 can petite diced tomato
1 tsp. Penzeys Shallot Pepper
1 tsp. low sodium Spike
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for approximately 12 minutes. (The chicken tenders take a little less time.)

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, until deeply toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the olive oil to the soup pan. Add the carrots, mushrooms, shallot, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Return the orzo to the pot.

Remove the chicken from the stock. Skim and discard the fat from the stock; transfer the stock to the soup pot. Chop, dice or shred the chicken and add to the soup with 2 cups water. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the orzo is just tender, 5 minutes. Add the edamame, corn, and tomatoes during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat; stir in the parsley and lemon peel. Serve immediately.

Notes: I made several changes to the original recipe, but that's why I love soups, they're easy to adjust according to your own taste. I doubled the liquid and the orzo because I knew the original recipe would not be enough for my big eaters. I also added some extra garlic, eliminated the zucchini and used edamame instead of peas and added some diced tomatoes and mushrooms. And I had to add Shallot Pepper and Spike like I do in every soup recipe that I make.

My version didn't turn out very soupy because the orzo really absorbs most of the liquid, but it didn't matter, we all loved it anyway. It was more like a big bowl of pasta instead of a bowl of soup! And, I'm so glad that I decided to leave in the lemon zest. I've never added lemon zest to a soup before and I almost eliminated it, but it really did add such a fresh, great flavor to this soup!


Creamy Tomato Soup, Cut the Cream!

January 11, 2010

It may be beautiful and sunny in LilSis' neck o' the woods, but it's colder than a well-digger's butt here in Texas.  I guess that's pretty darn cold, right?  Our last few nights have been close to 10 degrees, and our daytime highs have been well below freezing.  It's definitely soup season here!

I've been trying my new vegan diet on for size this week, and so far, it's been pretty easy.  I've been disappointed to see how many of my favorite products have unexpected animal products in them, but I'll adjust and it really motivates me more. It'll just take a little getting used to, and my palate will need to happily adapt to a dairy and egg-free world.  I did lose 3 pounds this week, but I think it's because it was kind of a detox from the semi-bad eating I've been doing for the last month or so, and some of that weight was bloaty water weight from too much salt, sugar, etc. It's the “etc” that gets you every time!

So dinner the other night needed to be 1) soup, 2) vegan, and 3) quick and easy.  Voila!  Here's what I came up with: Creamy Tomato Soup with no added salt, no butter, no cream, no guilt AND lots of flavor!  It's vegan, but I wanted to share it with you because it's so delicious, but isn't loaded with bad fats like the tomato basil soups you usually find.

You can use any seasonings you like.  I used the salt-free Italian seasoning and Mural of Flavor, and surprisingly didn't have to add any salt at all.  I think it may have something to do with the citrus peel in the Mural of Flavor, since lemon reduces our perceived need for salt.  I'm super-sensitive to salt and get big “salt bags” under my eyes from a small amount of it, so being able to skip the salt is huge for me.

Creamy Tomato Soup
(recipe by me)

28 oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
Water (I filled the tomato can about halfway full, but make your soup as thick or thin as you like)
2 tblsp Italian seasoning (I used Pampered Chef salt-free)
Penzeys Mural of Flavor, optional but really tasty
3/4 cup cashew cream (see note below)

Simmer the tomatoes and water in a medium saucepan with the Italian seasoning and Mural of Flavor for about 20 minutes to let flavors develop a bit.  With an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is smooth, or leave it chunky if you prefer.  Stir in cashew cream and heat through.

Note: Cashew cream is my new favorite discovery.  It's from Tal Ronnen's book “The Conscious Cook“.  You might have seen Tal on Oprah recently.  Cashew cream can be used in place of milk or cream in lots of recipes.  All you do is soak some raw cashews for 12 to 24 hours, and when whiz them around in a blender with just enough water to cover them.  That's it!  Just cashews and water.  Sure, nuts do have fat, but it's good fat and you aren't guzzling a gallon of this stuff.  You're just using 3/4 cup in this whole recipe.


Soup: Bowls of Comfort Food

January 24, 2009

Anyone else in need of a great new soup recipe? Soup is such a comfort food! When we get sick, we wish we had our mom close by to make us some homemade chicken noodle soup. And when it gets a little bit chilly outside, we get that urge to stay inside and make a big pot of soup for family and friends!

It's not very often that it's cool enough here in Southern Cal to put me in the mood to make soup, but right now it is. Even though it's cool outside, HayHay is actually at the beach surfing in a competition while I'm surfing some of my favorite blogs for soup recipes. Seriously!

I love making homemade soup and never eat canned soup. Right now, I'm in the mood to try a new recipe! Here are a few recipes I found that just look amazing! I don't know which one to try first!

Lobster Bisque from Northwest Noshings

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

15 Minute Warm and Hearty Taco Soup from Picky Palate

15 Minute Warm and Hearty Taco Soup

15 Minute Warm and Hearty Taco Soup

Cauliflower Soup from The Pioneer Woman

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup

Oven Roasted Mushroom Soup from The Recipe Girl

Oven Roasted Mushroom Soup

Oven Roasted Mushroom Soup

Chicken and Cheese Enchilada Chowder from Taste and Tell

Chicken and cheese enchilada chowder

Chicken and cheese enchilada chowder

For vegetarians, the mushroom soup and the cauliflower soup could easily be made vegetarian by just substituting vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.

And for those who also consider chili a comfort food, as I do; come back tomorrow because I'll be revealing my “prize winning” chili recipe.


Chicken Enchilada Soup

January 9, 2009

Not only is hummus not a ‘real meal' in this house, neither is soup! I had a new soup recipe planned for Sunday night and SirHoney snuck off to the store and bought three slabs of ribs so he and BigT could have a rib throw-down!  So, I ended up making the soup anyway and we had it as a first course before the ribs, broccoli, and mushrooms.

When I'm making a tortilla soup or any kind of chicken noodle or vegetable, I always boil the chicken, but this time, I sauteed the chicken instead and I really like how it turned out.  This is my version of Chicken Enchilada Soup.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 T. Olive Oil
4 skinned, boned chicken breasts, cubed (not too small)
3 T. flour
1 c. low sodium tomato sauce
1/2 c. skim milk
1 32 oz. box organic free range chicken broth (it's lower in sodium)
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 c. corn
1 small can chopped green chilies (optional)
1/2 c. – 1 c. grated cheese (I prefer to mix Monterrey jack and cheddar)
1 minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
4 – 6 flour or corn tortillas

Cut tortillas into very thin strips, place on baking sheet and sprinkle with a little chili powder. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or until crisp, set aside.

Put olive oil in a good size sauce pan (I like to use a 6 quart). Place over medium high heat until hot. Season chicken with fresh ground pepper and add to hot pan.  Saute 5 minutes or so stirring until all chicken is lightly browned. Add flour, and cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two.  Gradually stir in tomato sauce, milk and chicken broth. Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. (You can adjust these seasonings to taste).

Add diced tomatoes, corn and green chilies. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve, ladle into bowls and top each serving with grated cheese, tortilla strips and, if desired, jalapeno pepper. I think  a spoonful of sour cream on top would be awesome on this soup!


Closeup before adding toppings.



I was going to eat this bowl so I left the cheese off. Sorry!

I know, chicken enchiladas don't have corn in them. I just like it in this soup. I'm also one that puts corn in my chili.

I have to say that this soup tastes better than it looks. I didn't have any green chilies on hand, so this soup didn't have chilies. I think the little bit of green color would have jazzed up the photo a bit.

The next day, I noticed that most of the chicken was gone, but that I had enough of the yummy broth and veggies leftover, so I heated that to a boil and added about a cup of large pasta shells. HayHay gobbled that down for his after school snack.


Immune-Boosting Soup

November 2, 2008

Last weekend, as I was just trying to get back to exercising, I caught a cold.  I haven't had a cold in AGES, so I'm sure it was because my resistance is low, but I was determined it wouldn't drag me down.  I made a beeline for Central Market and got the ingredients to whip up a batch of what I call Immune-Boosting Soup.  I didn't have a recipe because you can really throw in anything you want.  The key is to use shiitake mushrooms and lots of garlic.  Do you know about the benefits of shiitakes?  Studies have shown them to be incredibly immune-boosting and anti-viral.  They're one of the amazing super foods that do so many wonderful things for our bodies.   And garlic is known to be antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal.  Sorry there's no photo, but this soup in NOT very pretty or very photogenic.  Let's just say it's brownish.  But this is not a beauty contest recipe, it's a healing recipe!  Here is what I used for my soup:

5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/3 large red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp Penzeys Vegetable Soup Base
Few dashes Penzeys Mural of Flavor (salt-free)
Dash cayenne pepper
Shallot pepper and garlic pepper to taste
Salt to taste (be careful since the soup base has salt and you're going to be reducing the liquid a little)

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger together until soft, and then add the sliced mushrooms and continue to saute until they are browned and tender.  Add about 6 cups of water and the seasonings and simmer for an hour.  Add more water if you like, and adjust the seasonings as needed.  Makes about 3 servings.

I had this soup for dinner three times last week, plus I immediately started taking a supplement called Super Lysine which has really helped me squelch bugs in the past.  Besides l-lysine, it has vitamin C, echinacea, goldenseal, licorice, garlic, and propolis.  Within a day, I literally felt better!  The cold started over the weekend, and on Monday I was sneezing and blowing my nose like a mad woman, but by Tuesday it was better!  Usually a cold can drag on for days and days, so I'm happy that this little combo of soup and Super Lysine did the trick for me.  I'm not a doctor so I can't tell you what will work for you, but if I can get some relief naturally without having to resort to a medicine, I'm happy!