Italian Soup

This is kind of a cross between a vegetable soup and a minestrone.  Mostly, it's a basic soup.  It's heartier than you would think and the sausage flavor really makes this soup.  Makes a lot (about 8 cups), so plan on a crowd or freezing leftovers.

olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (choose the kind you like)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t Splenda
2-3 carrots, sliced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (can replace with fresh and some water)
4.5 c chicken broth
1/2 t Italian Seasoning
1/4 t salt
14 t pepper
1 15-oz can Cannellini beans, drained (white kidney beans)
1 zucchini, diced or cubed
1/4-1/2 c small pasta

In a soup pot, add olive oil and brown sausage with garlic.  Crumble sausage as it cooks.  Stir in Splenda, carrots, broth, tomatoes, Italian Seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Cover and simmer about 20 minutes.  Add beans, zucchini and pasta.  Return to simmer and simmer uncovered 20 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Serve warm.

To Freeze:  Let cool completely.  Ladle into individual servings (in quart bags) or meal servings (gallon bags).  Freeze flat until frozen, then you can stack how you want.  To thaw, it's best to pull it out and leave in the fridge for several hours, then reheat, but you could just zap it until it thaws and re-heats if you're impatient or didn't plan ahead.

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