Italian Sausage Minestrone
This Italian Sausage Minestrone is loaded with veggies and an added dose of protein from Sweet Italian Sausage. It comes together easily, with mostly inactive cooking time, and is gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, and low-carb.
This colorful, veggie-heavy soup is a great way to turn those odds and ends in your produce drawer into a pot of absolute wow. Not to mention that this Italian Sausage Minestrone is packed with vitamins, fiber, gut-nourishing collagen, and protein. All good things.
An added bonus? This recipe makes a large batch and freezes well.
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In Search of the Ultimate Minestrone
The first place I turn (often) when I’m developing a recipe is Cook’s Illustrated, aka “America’s Favorite Test Kitchen”. I lean on this resource regularly to learn the absolute BEST way to cook something. My handy, spattered, and dog-eared copy of their cookbook, The Best Recipe, did not let me down with its deep dive into the art and science of Minestrone.
One of the most surprising takeaways from their research (i.e. umpteen batches of minestrone) was that taste testers unanimously preferred the minestrone that skipped sautéing the veggies before adding the liquid. In other words, they found that the soup tasted better when they simply tossed everything into the pot and let it happily bubble away for about an hour.
I love it when it’s easy like that! And, it works.
The Secret Ingredients
One chef hack that I made use of was the addition of Parmesan Reggiano rinds. Yep, the hard outer shell from that wedge of authentic parm that most people throw away.
True parmesan is a raw milk cheese from Reggiano, Italy, and although I avoid dairy, I do occasionally indulge in a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan. Once we’ve grated our parmesan down to the rind, I toss it in a baggie in the freezer, just for minestrone. If you’d really like to try this but don’t happen to have a freezer full of cheese rinds (like some people- haha!), simply cut the rind from a fresh piece of parmesan. Toss it into the soup pot along with the other ingredients, and remove before serving.
NOTE: Parmesan rinds are an easy way to add a blast of incredible umami flavor to your minestrone, but yes, it is going to add some dairy “residue”. For those who are highly sensitive to dairy, it’s best to omit this ingredient. Don’t worry— it’s 100% great either way!
There is another secret ingredient, and this is where I part ways with “America’s Test Kitchen”. They recommend water in their recipe, but in my nutrient-and-flavor-maximizing mind, brothy soups like this are the perfect opportunity to level up with bone broth. All that goodness, PLUS extra richness and flavor?! Yes, please.
I also skipped out on the traditional add-ins of pasta and/or cannellini beans and substituted my scratch-made Sweet Italian Sausage instead. Not traditional but…
The result? Lots and lots of WOWs, which are reserved, in our household, for the truly sublime.
The best part about this soup, though, is that you can adapt it to suit your needs:
- If you’re vegan, substitute water for bone broth and omit the sausage and parmesan rind.
- If you’re avoiding goitrogens or sulfur-containing foods like kale and cauliflower, you can use non-goitrogenic veggies like zucchini or fresh fennel.
- Want to add beans or your favorite gluten-free pasta? Be my guest. The recipe below includes a list of minestrone-friendly substitutions in the notes.
The beautiful thing about minestrone is that every pot is a little bit different, and a lot delicious.
- A 3 ounce serving of pork contains 103% DV for tyrosine, 63% DV for selenium, and 17% DV for Zinc—3 key nutrients for thyroid health.
- Tomatoes are a good source of key thyroid nutrients like vitamin A, Iron, and fiber. They are a very good source of vitamin C. A study recently shared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism stated, “In patients with hypothyroidism and gastrointestinal pathology, vitamin C improves the abnormalities in serum free T4, T3, and TSH concentrations.”
- Garlic has many powerful healing properties and can aid or alleviate some of the symptoms of thyroid disease, such as inflammation, cardiovascular issues, decreased immunity, and increased infection. It can also support the liver in its detoxification efforts.
- Kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, loaded with powerful antioxidants. According to nutritionist Kate Jay, kale is also excellent for methylation (vital for ridding the body of toxins). Please note: Kale is a cruciferous (and therefore goitrogenic) vegetable. Cooking greatly reduces the goitrogenic compounds, but you may want to replace the kale with another vegetable like zucchini if you are avoiding all goitrogens.
- Bone broth is one of the most highly recommended foods for anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s. The collagen and glycine can help repair cell damage in the intestinal tract.
- 1 cup of carrots provides 428% DV of Vitamin A.
- A 1 cup serving of cauliflower contains 73% of your daily Vitamin C. Perfect for keeping your lymphatic system strong and healthy.