What makes this sausage, beans and roasted vegetable soup so delicious? Red bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic are roasted, then blended with a vegetable broth and seasoned with a herb bouquet garni--creating a beautifully rich yet subtle flavor-filled soup base. Sweet Italian sausage and a Vidalia onion add a layer of sweetness and texture along with cannellini beans.
Here, I garnish the sausage and beans roasted vegetable soup with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. But other great garnishes would serve just as well, such a sour cream or pesto.
The soup base was inspired by Sam from Ahead of Thyme, the heartiness inspired by my desire for something more substantial.
Right up front, I'll warn you that this sausage, beans and roasted vegetable soup does take a bit of work. That being said, it's so delicious that the amount of effort to make it is worth it. Get an assistant and have fun together in the kitchen. Or maybe just a bottle of wine, play your favorite music and just have fun.
Red bell peppers and tomatoes are cut in half and seeds removed. Whole garlic cloves are peeled. Then all of the ingredients are tossed in 100% olive oil, placed face side down on a cookie sheet and then roasted.
Bouquet Garni, a French term and invention, is simply a group of fresh herbs tied together with a string, preferably bakers thread. Other holders for a bouquete garni are a small mesh bag, a net or even a tea strainer. There is no set of herbs to use. However, a classic collection of herbs includes thyme, bay leaf and parsley. The bouquet garni is cooked with liquid, generally a soup, a stock or stew and later removved. Juice from the bouquet garni is squeezed back into the liquid.
Fresh herbs have a more delicate flavor which can be diluted or simply faded out when cooked too long. Thus, it's best to add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking process.
In this recipe, the bouquet garni includes rosemary, thyme and oregano. Basic is also added' however, it is rolled and then sliced to leave in the soup both for flavor and added textural presentation.
Tools: Dutch oven (preferably cast iron) and a blender
Preheat oven 375 degrees
5 Sweet Italian sausage links, casing removed and chopped in bite size pieces
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Vidalia onion, chopped
2 large red bell peppers, cut in half and seeds removed
2 large beef steak tomatoes (or 3 smaller tomatoes), cut in half and seeds removed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Olive oil, 100% pure (not the virgin olive oil which does not take high heat)
2 cups vegetable broth, unsalted
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 herb bouquet garni, tied (includes 3 each fresh sprigs of oregano, thyme and rosemary)
4 basil leaves, rolled and sliced in strips
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish (optional)
Toss bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic in olive oil. Place vegetables and garlic face down on a cookie sheet. Bake 45 minutes.
While vegetables and garlic roast, melt butter in the Dutch oven pot on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until just translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove onions. Add sausage pieces, cook until brown while stirring periodically. Remove from pot.
Remove skin from roasted vegetables after they have cooled. Add vegetables and garlic to the pot. Add vegetable broth and tomato paste. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Spoon soup into a blender and purée for about 5 minutes. Then return soup to the pot. Add onions, sausage, beans, herb bouquet and basil leaves. Cover and simmer on low heat 5-6 minutes.
Remove bouquet garni, serve and garnish with parmigiano cheese.
There are of course short cuts to this recipe. You can purchase roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic. Just be sure to check the ingredients list. You can also use dry rather than fresh herbs but add the dry herbs earlier in the cooking processes. Dry herbs need more time to release their flavors. Personally, I have never tried these options. Soups are dishes I think always taste much, much better with fresh (or frozen) ingredients, especially when eaten as left overs.
See how all the pieces come together:
The sweet Italian sausage is just the right size for a mouth full of flavor!