Wednesday, September 7, 2011

For the Love of Basil

Italian Sausage Soup

½ lb of Italian style chicken sausage
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup baby or chopped spinach
1 cup corn
1 cup ditalini or other small-shaped pasta
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil + extra for topping
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flake or to taste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Sautee the peppers, onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large pot with the oregano until fragrant. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, remove the casings from the sausage and break the meat up into chunks. Add the sausage meat, corn, pepper flake, salt, pepper and basil to the pot and stir. Simmer over medium low heat for up to an hour, tasting occasionally.

While that’s cooking, cook the ditalini separately until al dente. Drain when it’s ready and add to pot. Add the spinach after that and remove from heat. Stir until spinach is wilted. Serve with fresh basil and grated Parmesan and a little extra olive oil if desired. Great with pan-fried garlic bread.

I looove basil! I love the taste, I love the smell of it, I love how it looks, and I especially love how easy it is to grow! When my father-in-law gave Paul and I a bin full of fresh, organic tomatoes from the farm he works on, I instantly thought “homemade tomato sauce!” I started going through a check list in my head of what I had on hand and what I would need to buy. Olive oil- check, garlic- check, tomato paste- check, fresh basil- need to buy! You just can’t have freshly made pasta sauce without basil, and although you can use dried, I wouldn’t recommend it. Dried oregano if okay to use since fresh often tastes so strong, it overpowers other flavors in a recipe; but, with basil you really want to go fresh if you can.

It’s very simple to grow and doesn’t cost much if you decide to just buy it fresh at the store. Most supermarkets do carry it fresh and often potted in the produce aisle, as they did at Shop Rite when I went to get it for the sauce I made, and then I was able to add it to the soup. I will be sure to post the tomato sauce recipe in a future post as well! I made it in a slow cooker; so if you own one of those, do stay tuned!

Anyway, back to the basil…so, basil not only tastes and smells great, but it’s loaded- like many greens –with vitamin K. It also contains generous amounts of iron and calcium, but also anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and good for cardiovascular health. Basil oil is especially potent as an anti-bacterial, and is also pretty easy to make and a “fun” activity for a rainy day like today if you feel up to it. Adding just a small amount to pasta, salads, sauces, or use it as a dip- or however you want -will really add a flavorful kick as well as the added health benefits mentioned above. Some people even like the smell of basil so much, they use it as a body fragrance! Try a little oil of oregano or oregano extract mixed into a larger amount of orange or Clementine fragrance oil for an uplifting aroma.

Lily loves pasta, sausage, cheese and corn, so I just strained some from the soup and served it to her. She’s not too crazy about peppers yet, but the sausage did contain that flavor anyway, so hopefully she will get into it soon. If your child is ready for soup, they can have this yummy concoction as is and I’m sure they will enjoy being able to add cheese to it! For baby, you can mush up some of the corn and pasta with the cheese, and if they eating meat, add some of the sausage. The peppers are your call!

I hope you enjoy this soup, and with fall and winter drawing near, expect more recipes like this- I just love soup when it’s cold out ! :)


  1. Mmmm! This looks delicious! I can't wait to try the recipe! I love basil! :-)

  2. This sounds really tasty, especially with all that fresh basil. I'm hosting a weekly blog carnival specifically for soups, stocks and chowders, every Sunday! I would love it if you would come over and post this recipe. Here's a link with more information:

    I hope to see you there!


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