Minestra is Italian for soup, and minestrone is a thick soup that is hearty enough to be a complete meal. Here is a simple midweek version with a refreshing blend of flavors that cooks in just 20 minutes.
Acini pepe is a very small soup pasta. Any type of leftover pasta, broken into small pieces, or orzo (rice-shaped pasta) can be used. Pecans, a good source of protein and monounsaturated fat, add pleasing texture and crunch.
Italian Sausage Minestrone
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound low-fat Italian turkey sausage
1 cup frozen diced onion
1 cup sliced green beans (1-inch pieces)
1 medium tomato, diced (1 cup)
2 cups fat-free, low-salt chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup packed, fresh, ready-to-eat spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup acini pepe pasta
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Slice the sausage and add to the pan with the onion and green beans. Saute 5 minutes. Do not brown the vegetables.
Add the tomato and broth. (It should cover the vegetables; add water, if needed.) Bring to a simmer and cover partially with a lid, leaving space for steam to escape. Simmer 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach and basil. Set aside for a minute or two.
While soup cooks, bring 2 to 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and boil 8 minutes, until cooked al dente. Drain.
Spoon pasta into bowls and ladle soup on top. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and pecans.
Per serving: 515 calories, 19 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 36 grams protein, 51 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 1,361 milligrams sodium
Recipe analysis provided by the Miami Herald.
While soup simmers, boil pasta.