Happy Halloween, everyone! Tonight was one of those nights where dinner needed to be quick and easy but also healthy (to counteract all the candy to be consumed afterward!). Not only did we have trick-or-treating on the agenda, but it was also a Tae Kwon Do day, which cut out even more of my dinner prep time. I immediately turned to one of my trustiest dinner recipes, Cooking Light’s Italian Sausage Soup. My friend Kristen told me about this recipe last year, when she made it for her family. It has a lot going for it — each 1 and 1/3 cup serving has only 216 calories, but what with the Italian sausage, seasoned tomatoes, spinach, tiny pasta shells, basil and sprinkling of cheese, the soup has a ton of flavor (and nutrients) and feels hearty, especially if you pair it with some whole-grain bread. Plus, it only takes 20 minutes to make. Since trying it for the first time last fall, it’s become a staple in my dinner rotation.
- 8 ounces hot or sweet turkey Italian sausage (I use Jennie O brand lean turkey sweet Italian links)
- 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
- 1/2 cup uncooked small shell pasta
- 2 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain; return to pan.
- Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil.
The kids just gobble this up, especially if I give them tiny ramekins of shredded basil and cheese for them to sprinkle onto the soup as they please. Since it was Halloween, I baked some biscuits and cut them into jack-o-lantern shapes to accompany the kids’ soup bowls.
For those who are counting calories or looking for accompaniments other than bread, a small baked potato with just a smidge of margarine would also go well with the soup, as would a roasted sweet potato (lots of fiber and vitamins!). Enjoy!