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Sausage Minestrone

Soup for supper is always a welcome treat in the colder months. This thick and hearty minestrone is chock-full of vegetables, beans, and savory bits of sausage. A dash of sugar and a splash of vinegar added at the very end of the cooking time serve to round out the flavors, and toasted bread topped with a piquant tapenade is served alongside. The recipe yields a big pot, so you can happily look forward to lunch the next day!

Sausage Minestrone

2 tbs. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 onions, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and roughly diced
4 celery stalks, roughly diced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
8 Italian sausages, skins removed and sausage meat broken into walnut-size pieces
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 x 14 oz. cans chopped tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
14 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
14 oz. can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbs. golden caster sugar
1 tbs, red wine vinegar
parsley, roughly chopped

Put the oil, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a large saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until soft. Meanwhile, tip the sausage pieces into a non-stick frying pan, turn up the heat and sizzle for a few minutes to brown. Put to one side.

Stir the tomato paste through the soft vegetables and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sausage pieces and beans, and bubble down for 10 minutes until the sausages are cooked through. Season, then stir in the sugar, vinegar, and parsley. Spoon into bowls, drizzle with more olive oil, and top with a Tapenade Toast.

Tapenade Toasts

small ciabatta loaf, cut into 12 thin slices
1 tbs. olive oil
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. capers
1 crushed garlic clove
handful of chopped parsley

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet, then drizzle with 1 tbs. olive oil and season. Bake at 425°F for 6-8 minutes, turning once, until crisp.
Meanwhile, blitz the remaining ingredients to a paste in a small food processor. Season with black pepper and spread on the toasted ciabatta slices.

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