I have been on a big soup and sandwich kick lately. Always looking for quick soup recipes I turned to my stand by Rachael Ray Comfort Foods and came across this gem. Lots of texture and flavor. Broth is great for dipping in to.
3/4 pound sweet sausage, in bulk, or remove links from casings
2 tablespoons EVOO (twice around the pan), plus a drizzle for browning meat
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat, diced
1 bulb fresh fennel, trimmed of tops and chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, cracked and broken away from skin by whacking against the flat of a large knife
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 can (15 ounces) Great Northern white beans, drained
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 quart (32 ounces) chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped (a couple fresh sprigs), or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed in the palm of hand
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (the yield of a few sprigs), or 1 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, crushed in palm
Black pepper, to taste
Garlic bread or garlic croutons, for topping soup
In a deep pot, brown sausage in a touch of olive oil over high heat. Remove sausage and drain on paper towels. Wipe pan out and return to stove, reducing heat to medium high. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pot and then add chicken. Brown chicken for 2 to 3 minutes. Add fennel, onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cover pot and cook vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove cases and add beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until ready to serve. For a thinner soup, add up to 2 cups water.
Serve soup with chunks of garlic bread for dipping or float garlic croutons on top of the soup.