Heather asked me to post this a couple of weeks ago, so since I'm so on top of things, I'm posting it now. I love Minestrone Soup. I've been making this one for a few years now, and I just can't find one that beats it. I think the key is the can of Bean with Bacon soup. I don't love condensed soups, but the smoky flavor in this one really makes the difference. I got this recipe from the Mormon Essential Celebrations cookbook, by Julie Badger Jensen.
1 lb. pork sausage- (I just use ground pork so I don't have to mess with the casings. I've tried using bulk Italian sausage, but it just overpowers the soup.)
4 c. water
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 (10 oz) can beef broth
1 can bean with bacon soup
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 T. sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 cup cooked noodles (optional)
Brown sausage in a large pot. Drain off fat. Add remaining ingredients except noodles, and stir together. Simmer uncovered over low heat for at least 1 hour. Add cooked noodles before serving.
This soup tastes even better the next day.
The noodles are completely optional, but there are some in my family that are more likely to eat a soup that has noodles. If you do add the noodles be sure to cook them first before adding them, otherwise they soak up a lot of the broth.
Crock-pot option: You can make this in your crock pot, by browning the sausage, and then dumping everything except the noodles in the crock pot and cooking on low for the day. Then just add the noodles before serving.
This soup also freezes well. Again, just freeze without the pasta, and then add it before serving.