Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

This was a hit at my house last Sunday night, and I've saved the leftovers for lunch for me all week.  It hits the spot on a cold winter day!

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

1 TBS olive oil

1 pound of Italian sweet sausage, removed from casings

1 cup diced celery

2 cups chopped onion

1 large chopped red bell pepper

1 TBS chopped garlic

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 pounds of diced zucchini

5 chopped plum tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 quarts (two boxes) of chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese 

1 TBS basil seasoning (2TBS fresh if you prefer)

1. Chop onion, zucchini, garlic, celery, pepper and tomato and set aside.

2. In a large soup pot, add olive oil and sausage.  Over medium high heat cook sausage using a spoon (or see below) to crumble sausage, until sausage is browned.

3. Add onion, celery and pepper and saute 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic, pepper, salt and tomato paste, stirring together, cook for a couple minutes.

5. Add tomatoes, zucchini, chicken broth and Parmesan cheese, along with basil.  Stir well to combine.

6. I simmered on low for a few hours, and then served with more Parmesan cheese for a topping.  You could also add it to a slow cooker and keep it on low until ready to be served.

I also served this with my garlic bread, but added some mozzarella cheese on top of the bread before cooking.

To crumble ground beef and sausage, or to smash avocados for guacamole, I use this meat chopper tool-I keep my kitchen tools at the bare minimum but LOVE this thing: