Spicy Tomato Sausage Soup

Last year, I finally admitted that when I made meals with my spicy sausage porcini tomato sauce, I really just wanted the sauce, not the pasta. So, I decided to make the sauce a soup. I've been craving it lately, and as I had some stock (what? me? stock in the fridge?), I finally made a batch. Here's what I threw into the pot last night:

Spicy Tomato Sausage Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small or 1 large green pepper, chopped
6 links (about 1 pound) Italian-style hot sausage (I get mine from Esposito’s)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. dried oregano (+ more to taste)
1 tbsp. dried basil (+ more to taste)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
½ cup dried porcini mushrooms (reconstitute by soaking in warm water) or 2 porcini bullion cubes
¼ cup red wine
4 cups stock (I use chicken)
½ lb. green beans (cut into 1 inch. pieces)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds. Add the onion and green pepper, and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Remove the sausage from its casings and add to the pot (break the sausage into little pieces with a spoon as it cooks). When the sausage is almost done, add the tomatoes, spices, mushrooms (removed from the liquid and roughly chopped) or bullion, red wine, and stock. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour (more is better), tasting along the way. Adjust seasoning if necessary. (If you've lost a lot of liquid, add a little water.) When you're about ready to serve, add the green beans (or whatever other vegetable you'd like) and cook until they're just done.

Note: I thought I had some dried beans in the cupboard, but I was wrong (I would have added about 1/2 cup to the mix--cooked, of course). I may add some to the leftovers...

And for my vegetarian friends: I think this would work sans sausage: just use beans, more veggies, and extra spices (and maybe a little fennel seed, which is usually present in Italian sausage).

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