In a previous post I discussed how easy it is to play around with soup recipes depending on what you have onhand in the kitchen. It's actually really easy to have a nice homemade soup dinner on the table with minimal prep and through the use of a few convenience products.

It got REALLY cold here this week and it was just me and my daughter here for dinner tonight so I became inspired this morning and decided to rummage my pantry and refrigerator to whip up something that would be comforting when she got home after being out for the afternoon.

BTW...this will feed the three of us for a couple of days and I will probably have some left to freeze to take for lunches down the road. If you are feeding a crowd, throw the pasta in for the recommended cooking period. If you plan on having leftovers the next day I recommend boiling the pasta separately and just add it to the dish before reheating. If you store the pasta in the soup in the refrigerator it will bloat and soak up all of the broth. Not so yummy.

So this is what I came up with. Since it is kind of like a minestrone and the main ingredients are either red or green, I think I'll call it Ellen's Italian Holiday Soup. Welcome to the world. It was yummy and here is how I did it.

1 lb mild Italian bulk sausage
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, broken up and with juice
2 medium zucchini, split in half and sliced into 1 inch half moons
1 can garbonzo beans, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
32 oz box beef stock
64 oz tomato juice
10 oz bag fresh young spinach leaves
1 lb pasta (I used elbow macaroni since it was in the pantry, but you can use small shells or tube shaped pasta)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste

Form meatballs out of the sausage into small (approx 1 inch) balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 6 minutes to remove some of the grease and to harden the outside so they don't break apart once added to the soup. They should be slightly browned.

In a large stockpot combine meatballs, tomatoes, zucchini, both cans of beans, beef stock, tomato juice and seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer covered for about an hour. Add whole spinach leaves. Allow to simmer until wilted (if adding pasta to the pot do it during this step, otherwise, boil separately and add to bowls before ladling soup over pasta).

Thanks for reading!