October 28, 2016
Perfect for a hearty weeknight meal, this 30-Minute Keto Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage is loaded with flavor and healthy fresh vegetables. If you didn’t know better, you’d think someone’s Italian grandmother slaved all day over a stove! This recipe can be made ahead and yields 8 generous entree-size servings, so it’s great for entertaining or for stashing away portions in the freezer.
Minestrone Soup is a dish that goes back to Roman times. It is, at it’s most basic, a vegetable soup that usually contains tomatoes and is often thickened with some sort of grain, starchy root vegetables, and/or legumes. Sometimes the liquid base is simply water and other times it’s stock. It’s not unusual to find bits of meat included as well. While you’ll often see starchy pasta, potatoes, or beans, this version uses mostly low carb vegetables, with a small amount of a few strategically-chosen root vegetables, a modest amount of tomatoes, and savory Italian-style sausage for extra protein and heartiness. This isn’t a thick soup, but I don’t mind, and I don’t think you will either. The flavor is so rich and the large portion (about 2 cups) is so filling, it’s hard to believe that the net carbs come in at just over 7 per serving!
To streamline matters without sacrificing flavor, I often use high-quality prepared chicken stock and no-sugar-added marinara sauce. Of course, homemade stock is a great choice, if you have it on hand. I use marinara sauce because it gives a bit more of a ‘simmered’ tomato flavor, as well as extra seasoning. However, you could easily substitute a can of diced tomatoes.
For the sausage, I generally purchase fresh (raw) mild Italian-style that comes link-style, and I remove the casings. Bulk-style is fine, too, as long as you can find good quality sausage without unwanted additives. There are also many already-cooked link sausages (especially chicken- and turkey-based) that can be substituted, but check the package to avoid added sugars. Use 4-ounces less of cooked sausage than for raw (20 vs. 24), and dice into 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces.
To save a little time, I peel and chop the onion and carrots first, so that they can start cooking with the Italian sausage while I prep mushrooms, celery and bell peppers. After I add them to the pot, I prep the zucchini and spinach, which aren’t included until the last 5 minutes of cooking. While the soup is simmering, I chop the fresh herbs and grate the cheese.
You’ll notice that I use a somewhat odd ingredient for seasoning: tamari. Tamari (or soy sauce or liquid aminos), along with the mushrooms, tomato, and Parmesan/Romano cheese, adds a savory (umami) flavor that gives the soup extra dimension and yet is not noticeable as an Asian flavor. You can leave it out if you like, but I encourage you to try it. It really does add a little extra something.
At the end of cooking, I stir in the fresh herbs and serve. Some of my favorite options to up the flavor (and healthy fat) include freshly-grated Parmesan or Percorino Romano cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a dollop of basil pesto. If you enjoy a little extra spice, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
It seems that we humans typically seek out “comfort” foods more often during the Autumn and Winter seasons. Many people find starchy or sugar-laden foods comforting, but the comfort usually disappears when the food is gone. Instead, one is often left feeling regretful, bloated, or even worse when the blood sugar crash arrives. It’s far more comforting and restorative when we reach for delicious, satisfying foods that will nourish us in both body and spirit in a lasting way. When I tuck into a bowl of steaming 30-Minute Keto Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage, all is well in my world!
30-Minute Keto Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage
Author: Laura Mack
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Perfect for a hearty weeknight meal, this soup is loaded with flavor and healthy fresh vegetables for just over 7 net carbs per serving. This recipe can be made ahead and yields 8 generous entree-sized servings, so it's great for entertaining or for stashing away portions in the freezer.
3 ounces / about ½ medium yellow onion
3 ounces / about 1 medium carrot
1 tablespoon avocado oil
24 ounces mild Italian-style sausage (or 20 ounces cooked sausage)
8 ounces white or cremini mushrooms
6 ounces / about 4 stalks celery
3 ounces / about ½ large red bell pepper
3 ounces / about ½ large green bell pepper
6 ounces / about 1 medium zucchini
4 ounces / about 4 cups fresh spinach
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 quarts high-quality prepared chicken stock (or homemade)
12 ounces marinara sauce, no sugar added (or one 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce or liquid aminos)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Optional Garnishes: freshly-grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, a drizze of extra-virgin olive oil, or a dollop of basil pesto
- Peel the onion and carrots and dice into ¼" to ½" pieces and set aside. Place a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat and add avocado oil. When the oil is shimmering, add sausage and break up larger chunks of meat into smaller pieces. with a wooden spoon. Stir in the onions and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sausage mixture is cooking, clean the mushrooms, celery, and bell peppers. Slice the mushrooms, and dice the celery and peppers into bite-size pieces, about ¼" to ½". Stir the veggies into the sausage mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, prep the zucchini and spinach: Clean and dice the zucchini into bite-size pieces. If using baby spinach, remove any long stems and set aside. For regular spinach, remove the stems, rinse thoroughly, and coarsely chop. Set zucchini and spinach aside.
- Stir in garlic, spices, chicken stock, marinara, and tamari into the pot. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and spinach, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Stir in fresh herbs and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and/or extra-virgin olive oil or pesto, if desired.
- Let any leftover soup cool to room temperature (about 1 hour), then transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Chilled soup may be frozen for up to 6 months.
Nutritional info* for 1 serving (about 2 cups): 408 cal, 31.8 g total fat (71%), 10 g total carbs, 2.6 g fiber, 7.4 g net carbs, and 20.3 g protein.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.