Sausage and Chickpea Minestrone

I just love this recipe because it is a one-pot meal that is filling and easy to modify (add whatever combination of vegetables you like). It's also easy to double, if you have a large enough pot. Enjoy!

Sausage and Chickpea Minestrone

(serves 4-5)

12-16 ounces organic turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed. Bratwurst also works well; remove the casings.
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup (or more) diced carrot
1/2 cup (or more) diced celery (or zucchini, leeks, spinach or kale. See Note below)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups (one quart) low-sodium chicken broth

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add a drizzle of MCT oil to scantily cover the bottom. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, stirring to crumble (if using precooked sausage, skip this step and just move on to adding the onion, etc. You will add the sausage later). Add onion and next 7 ingredients (through garlic); cook 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and chicken broth (and, if using precooked sausage, then add it at this time. Chop up the sausage into small pieces before adding it to the pot); bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Done! Can you believe it was that easy?

Note: Try experimenting with different vegetables. I often don't have celery on hand when I spontaneously decide to make this recipe, so I will use chopped fresh spinach, or zucchini and leeks, or yellow summer squash, or bell peppers. 

Note: if you want to make this even more filling, consider adding one cup or so of cooked rice, at the same time as the chickpeas. Or, add 1/2 cup or so of uncooked orzo, and increase the cooking time to 15 minutes, or until orzo is fully cooked.