1Parmesan rindabout the size of a domino is perfect
1/2cupdry pasta of your choice
1medium zucchinidiced (about 1 cup)
Handful fresh parsleychopped (about 1/2 cup chopped)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
1/2pound- 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage1/2 pound if you're adding to half the soup, 1 pound for the entire thing
In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until soft.
Add the garlic and saute, stirring, for about 1 minute.
Add the potatoes, squash, broth, tomatoes, beans, sage, thyme, bay leaves, and Parmesan rind. Continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the soup comes to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer soup for 1 to 2 hours (I prefer 2 hours to really get the flavors mingling).
About 20 minutes before you're ready to serve the soup, cook the pasta to al dente, according to your package directions. Drain add to the soup along with the zucchini and parsley. Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, then taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.
If adding sausage to all or part of the soup, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan and brown the sausage completely, breaking it up into small pieces. Remove any excess oil.
If adding sausage to only half of the soup, ladle just under half of the soup into the saucepan, over the drained sausage. This should be about 4 - 5 cups of soup. If you're adding sausage to the entire batch, just stir it directly into your pot of soup.
Remove bay leaves, taste again, and adjust seasonings if desired.
Serve sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Perfect Vegetarian Minestrone with Optional Sausage