A Winter Soup

Hunter's Minestrone 
(recipe from the Food Network ... but as you'll see, I adapted a bit)
about 6 servings

2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
1 head garlic, halved
1/2 lb. small rigatoni (pretty sure I used whatever pasta I had on hand, but rigatoni would be fine too)
Extra virgin olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves (I didn't have this.  No biggie.)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp. dry thyme)
3/4 lb. loose sweet Italian pork sausage (I used hot sausage, because that's what I had)
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped (Omitted.  Can't think of the last time I had celery in my house)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (28-oz) can crushed plum tomatoes (plum?  seriously?  Just dump in a big can of whatever tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
2 (28-oz) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced

Combine the stock and halved garlic in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice garlicky taste, then strain out the garlic.  Keep warm.  (If you're me, you chop up some of the garlic you just strained out and throw it back in.  But that's just me.  We rhymeswithsmilers like garlic.)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.

Pour 1/4 c. olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3-4 minutes.  Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage until well browned.  Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor.  Add to the saucepan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are softened but not browned.

To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leave, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone.  Drain and stir into the simmering soup.  Add the parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs (if you used herb sprigs).  Serve hot.

It's cold.  Perfect weather for soup.

It's also snowy.  Again, perfect soup weather.

We are waiting on Baby RhymesWithSmile ... it will be here sometime in the next 17 days.  Until then, I am using the pregnancy as the perfect excuse to do all of the following soup-related activities: 
(a) make gallons of soup 
(b) eat gallons of soup 
(c) freeze gallons of soup 
(d) nap after making, eating, or freezing soup
(e) eat donuts (sure, this is soup-related.  One needs dessert, right?  And appetizers?  Of course.)

Whew.  It's been over a month since I last posted.  It'll probably be more than a month until my next post, unless the baby comes on Day 17.  If that happens, you'll be hearing a lot from me.  

The Mr, myself, and Baby RWS at 38 weeks