I had this soup (or a version of it) at my Sister in Law's house about a month ago, she made it from scratch, even using fresh green beans. I've been craving it (and the shaved parmesan cheese that you put on top when you're eating it), so I made it on Sunday night.
I have to say, it's one of the best soups ever. If you know anything about me, you know that I LOOOOOVE soup. This one looks a little intimidating, but i'll tell you, if I can make it on a Sunday night, after moving furniture and doing a bunch of errands all day, ANYONE can make it. It really went together in a snap, and is so delicious... I know I keep saying that, but it really is. The layering of flavor is just astounding. Of course I know the fact that it made it into the "Joy of Cooking" cookbook, is a tribute to just how fantastic it is.
I made a few changes to the cookbook version. The most notable change was the addition of the sausage. I just love sausage in soup. There was a time, that I would have used spicy italian sausage, but not these days. I did add a little bit of crushed red pepper flake though, and it wouldn't have hurt to add a few dashes of Choloua or some other such hot sauce.
Char’s Provençal Vegetable and Sausage Soup
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
1 ½ lb Italian Sausage, casings removed (I used Publix cheese and parsley flavored-use what you like)
6 T olive oil, preferably extra virgin, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small leek (white and tender green parts), cleaned thoroughly and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
3 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
5 15 ½oz cans chicken stock
1 heaping T chicken base
Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can light red kidney beans, beans, rinsed and drained
Small handful of thin spaghetti, broken up, or macaroni
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 pound FRESH green beans, cleaned and broken into bite size pieces
5 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/3 tube basil paste
2/3 cup grated or shaved parmesan cheese
1 tsp black pepper
Wine for deglazing (optional)
A few shots of White Worchestershire sauce (optional)
A pinch of red pepper flake (optional)
Heat 2 T olive oil in large soup pot or dutch oven over medium low heat. Add Italian sausage and red pepper flake, if desired. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up into smaller bite sized pieces. Remove to separate bowl. Deglaze pan with a little water (or wine if you have some). Add 2 - 4 more T olive oil. Add carrot, leek, onion and celery and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, potato, stock, white Worchestershire sauce, chicken base, saffron and 2 tsp salt.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in cooked sausage, cannellini and light red kidney beans, pasta, zucchini, green beans, basil paste, garlic, pepper, parmesan cheese and more salt to taste.