Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

I remember my Italian mother-in-law, Marie,  making a version of Italian Sausage soup many years ago that I just loved and even wrote down on a scrap of paper how she made it. This is a very hearty soup which is perfect at this time of year  and can be made according to what kind of veggies you like and how much "heat" you like in your sausage. I used mild chicken Italian sausage to make this soup kid friendly, but using hot Italian sausage gives it a tasty kick!

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

1 pound Italian Sausage ( I used mild chicken Italian sausage, but you could use hot Italian pork sausage instead)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2  teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed ( my daughter loves potatoes in soup, so I add lots)
2 zucchinis, cut into cubes
1 yellow squash, cut into cubes
1 15 ounce can northern beans
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
small pasta like macaroni or orzo can be added as well

Saute sausage in large soup pot, cutting it into bite size pieces as you cook it. Remove from pot and drain sausage on paper towel. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, carrots and celery and saute for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle vegetables with a little salt and pepper.  Add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil and potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Add zucchini and yellow squash and beans and cook for 20 more minutes, or until tender. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and hearty bread. Enjoy!

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