As the weather gets colder, soup is on my dinner menu at least once a week. To be honest with you, soups are easy to throw together on busy weeknights and always make enough leftovers to last me several days. The fewer meals that I have to think about and plan (especially for myself) throughout the week makes me one happy mama!
One of my family’s favorites is a good, hearty minestrone soup. It is simple, full of vegetables and delicious. Since we often make soup for dinner, I decided to add a little twist to the classic minestrone by adding protein. This makes it a more sustainable meal for the busy, energetic men (big and little) that I live with.
I know what you may be wondering….do your two 6-year-olds really eat a soup full of vegetables without complaining? In fact, they do. We have always had the rule in our house that you eat what is served, our kitchen is not a custom order cafeteria. So yes, my kids eat everything that we cook and honestly don’t complain too much. I truly think that my flavorful take on minestrone is something they actually enjoy! Plus they love that soup always comes with freshly baked dinner rolls.
There really isn’t anything better than warm “comfort” food during the winter months, especially on cold, snowy nights, to bring a family together. The best hours in our day are when everyone is sitting around the kitchen table focusing on each other. The laughter and conversations seem to take all the stress out our day for that 30 minutes, which is incredibly valuable for me. I cherish the time I get with my family when the hustle and bustle of life quiets down.
Meat Lovers "Minestrone" Soup
A twist on the Italian classic, minestrone soup.
- 1 lb. Mild Italian Sausage Sauteed
- 2 oz. Pancetta diced Sauteed
- 14 oz Kidney Beans
- 28 oz Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 1 Onion diced
- 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1 cup Diced carrots
- 1 cup Diced Celery
- 1 cup Diced Zucchini
- 1 cup Diced Yellow Squash
- 2 cups Baby Spinach
- 2-4 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 lb Pasta (small pasta shapes are best)
Dice all of your vegetables and set aside. Sautee the pancetta. About 1/2 through cooking the pancetta add the Italian sausage and cook through.
If you are putting the soup in a slow cooker, dump the cooked meat, garlic tomatoes, beans, vegetables, chicken broth, and spices into the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
If you plan to simmer your soup on the stove top, set the sausage aside after it is fully cooked. Sautee the garlic and vegetables in the same pan using the grease from your meat for 7-10 minutes or until tender. Return the sausage and pancetta to the pot and add the tomatoes, beans, broth, and spinach to the pot. Season your soup with salt and pepper, garlic powder and oregano (to taste) and let simmer for at least an hour.
Tip from the Chef: I like to boil the pasta and add it to the soup as I serve. The pasta seems to soak up a lot of the broth, which I don't like. When I am storing leftovers I store the pasta (coated in olive oil) and leftover soup separately, mixing them together only when I heat it up to eat the next day.
Let me know what you think! Did you like the added meat to the soup? Bon appetite!