- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups drained and rinsed canned white beans, preferably cannellini (from two 19-ounce cans)
- 10 cups water
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 2/3 pound spinach, stems removed and leaves washed well (about 1 1/2 quarts)
- Grated Parmesan, for serving
How to make this recipe
In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon.
Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of the beans and 2 cups of the water in a blender and puree until smooth.
Add the tomatoes, the bean puree, the remaining 8 cups water, the salt, and the pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Stir in the sausage, the remaining 2 cups beans, and the spinach. Simmer until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Serve the soup topped with grated Parmesan, and pass more Parmesan at the table.
It's only natural to partner this traditional Italian soup with a classic Italian red wine. Either a Tuscan Chianti or a Dolcetto from the hills of Piedmont will be splendid.