Around the Table – Italian Soup – or “Pizza Soup” for our kids

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All “Around the Table” posts.

On a cold day, especially if it’s cloudy, I am always in the mood for a hot soup.  This is a favorite in our family – Italian Soup.  The kids have re-named it Pizza soup, which just sounds more fun if your kids are hesitant to try new things.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that most of the ingredients can be canned or frozen (which means I bought them at rock bottom prices or with a coupon) and can be switched out with fresh ingredients (in case something is going to go bad, or I was able to grow it myself).  First I’ll give you my basic recipe and follow it with some suggestions of replacements.  I will admit, it was hard to get my kids to try it the first time or two, but my husband and I loved it so much, it makes it to the table about once a month.  After a few tries the kids warmed up to it and now it is one of their requests that they ask for regularly.  My 3 year old says this is her FAVORITE food.  I have to give credit to my Aunt Lorene for teaching me this recipe – she’s not Italian, but she is an awesome cook!

1 lb ground sausage
1 chopped medium sized onion
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cans mushrooms
2 T minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cups (uncooked) pasta
1 can water
6 oz bag spinach

Directions – brown onion and sausage.  Add all ingredients except spinach.  Simmer until pasta and carrots are soft.  Add spinach and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve.

Sausage – we typically try to stay away from red meat – if we are going to eat it, we make it count and have a big fat steak – otherwise I substitute it with Jenni-O ground turkey breast – sausage flavored – and it tastes great!  Also cuts 150 calories from this dish.

Onion – If I find I have everything already in the fridge except the onion, I replace it with about 1/4 cup dry onion flakes – works great!

Carrots – no substitutions, but we usually add 2 cups – the kids love cooked carrots.

2 cans mushrooms – I will use fresh if I have some extra in the fridge or the canned.  A lot of times I cut it from the soup all together since mushrooms don’t really add much nutrition and my kids aren’t big fans.

Garlic – fresh or from the jar, whatever you have is fine.

Chicken Broth – this is one I love to substitute if I can.  I use the broth from a roasted chicken.  If you find yourself saving the broth and never using it up, this is a good way to put it to use and get your moneys worth out of the chicken.  Or you can use the chicken bullion or broth from a can.

Tomatoes – If I used the canned I like the Italian flavored ones.  Fresh are great and in the summertime when they are falling off the vine faster than you can use them, this is a great way to keep them from going to waste.

Pasta – Most commonly we use the mini bow-tie pasta.  The kids think they are cute and get excited over them.  You can use penne, macaroni or any other dry pasta.  When I splurge and go all out, I’ll use the little Tortellini’s that are cheese filled.

Spinach – I buy fresh spinach for salads often and it seems like I can never make it to the end of the bag before it goes bad – so this is another one I like to substitute with fresh spinach if I have it.  Just chop it up and throw it in right before you serve it.  The frozen is nice because you can stock up when it’s cheap.  Either way tastes great!

We serve this with some homemade wheat bread and it is fantastic!  Freezes well, so make a triple batch and save yourself dinner dishes and time for 2 more nights!

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