I have to admit, I'm not a fan of wimpy soups, and, to me, a wimpy soup is a brothy soup. I like my soups thick, rich, and creamy, though I don't think you need to add cream to achieve a creamy soup. There are four things about this soup that make it thick and creamy: the eggplant, which breaks down as it cooks and adds a meaty taste and great texture; the beans break down and thicken the soup; and finally, the pasta and potatoes, which let off natural starches as they cook. When you add the full flavor of the Italian sausage, you've got a warm and satisfying meal that only needs some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and crunchy bread. While the ingredient list is long, most are items I normally have on hand or need to use up. Sometimes I also add diced zucchini with the pasta. —jenmmcd
Italian sausage links (chicken or pork both work well)
garlic cloves, minced
carrots, peeled and diced
14.5 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
eggplant, peeled and diced
small red potatoes, unpeeled and diced
14.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage. Cook until onions are translucent and sausage is browned, about 5 minutes, turning the sausage half way through. Add garlic and carrots and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, beans, thyme, bay leaves, and parsley. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium low for 10 minutes. Remove sausage links and slice into rounds. It's okay if the sausage isn't cooked all the way through when you slice it; it can break up a bit in the soup. Return to pot along with any juices from the cutting board and stir to combine.
Simmer another 20 minutes or until eggplant begins to break down and the carrots are soft.
Add pasta and cook for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon into bowls, grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, and serve with your favorite bread. As my son says, "Deeeeeeeeeeeeeee-licious!"