Italian Wedding Soup

Serve with Barbera or Sangiovese.

1 9-oz package of fresh ravioli or tortellini (try to find small, bit sized pasta. Mrs. Vino uses Buitoni whole wheat four-cheese ravioli because they are bite sized.)
1 49.5-oz can reduced fat chicken broth (that’s right, the BIG can)
½ head of fresh fennel, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed or microwaved (extra credit – use chopped Kale or Mustard Greens)
2 links sweet Italian sausage
¼ lb pancetta, sliced thick by the deli, then chopped by you
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green peppers
Lemon pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
Shaved or shredded Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish

Now that the weather is FINALLY turning cold in Avila, Mrs. Vino is craving one of her favorite hearty soups. Here is the recipe to share. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large stock pot. Slice the sausage lengthwise, remove the casing and chop or break into small pieces. Brown the sausage and pancetta in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, fennel and garlic. Continue browning until the onion and garlic soften and begin to take on color (on Mrs. Vino’s burners it’s another 3-4 minutes). Carefully dump in the broth, and the can of tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer. Add the thawed spinach and lemon pepper to taste. Add the ravioli and simmer in the broth for the time recommended on the package—don’t boil or the pasta will fall apart! Finish with the juice of ½ lemon.

Put into biiiiiggggg bowls, top with the shredded cheese and serve with warm rustic bread—This has enough veggies in it that even Mrs. Vino’s mother would have considered it a balanced meal.

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