With the weather turning cooler, soup is the meal of choice for many people. Why not serve your family a soup that is hearty, super-fast to make and oh-so-comforting on a cold fall evening!
1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 pound ground Italian sausage, either regular or turkey Or 1 pound kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1 medium onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced Pinch Italian seasoning 1 pound fresh spinach leaves, long stems removed, washed and coarsely chopped 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 1 1/4 cups picante sauce, mild, medium or hot 2 cans (about 15 ounces each) white beans (Great Northern, Navy or White Kidney Beans) 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing Extra virgin olive oil, optional, for garnishing Sliced jalapenos, optional, for garnishing Rinse and drain both cans of beans. Using a fork mash one can of beans. Set both cans of beans aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage or kielbasa and sauté until it is browned. Drain, rinse and set aside. In the large saucepot sauté onion, garlic and Italian seasoning until translucent, stirring constantly. Return sausage or kielbasa to saucepot. Add spinach and cook for approximately 2 minutes, again stirring constantly.
Add the broth, picante sauce, beans and Parmesan cheese and stir well. Heat to a boil and lower the heat to low. Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese, a tiny drizzle of olive oil and jalapenos, if using. Serve with garlic crostini (toasted sliced French baguettes drizzled with garlic olive oil) and a tossed green salad.
Serves 6. Note: I prefer Navy beans, but use Great Northern or White Kidney Beans when they are on sale. Note: You can substitute two packages (about 10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained, for the fresh spinach. The best way to drain microwaved frozen spinach is to remove the frozen block of spinach from the box and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the spinach on HIGH for about three minutes or until the spinach becomes soft and mushy. Then take a colander and line it with a couple sheets of paper towels. Place the mushy spinach on the paper towels. Wrap the paper towels around the spinach and squeeze the water out of the spinach. Make sure you do this over the colander just in case the paper towel tears. However, the paper towel shouldn't’t tear if you use a couple sheets of strong paper towels.