I love soups, especially during the cold months, and I’m feeling like I need a good soup this week. I may have given you a version of the Italian wedding soup before, but this one is even easier and, as always, nutritious and satisfying.

It makes a wonderful first course for your holiday dinner by the way, since I am giving you festive menus this month.

I would pair a bowl of it with a fruit for dessert and maybe even a small glass of white wine and you have a very nice meal — or a cup of it for a first course, as I said.

Start by choosing a good chicken sausage. There is one that I am most familiar with, although I would guess there are others. I don’t normally endorse products but in comparison to pork options, this chicken sausage is low in calories (110 per link) and low in cholesterol and fat.

The good news is, it is tasty, too. The bad news is, there are 500mg of sodium in each link, so if you are watching your sodium intake be mindful of this.

The brand of sausage I am speaking of is Al Fresco Sweet Italian Style Sausage, found in most meat sections of your markets. It is fully cooked but do remember to remove the casings — they are tough. It is a mild sausage so if you like a little kick, just add a few hot pepper flakes to your recipe.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1pound Italian chicken sausage (4 links, casings removed)

1small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

1/2 bulb fennel, finely chopped (1 cup), plus fronds for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 Parmesan rind, plus shaved Parmesan for serving

2/3 cup pastina, such as acini di pepe

3 cups escarole or spinach leaves, torn into bite-size pieces

2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage; cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add onion, fennel, and a pinch of salt to pot. Cook, stirring, until softened, 10 minutes (if browning too quickly, add a splash of water). Add broth, 3 cups water, and rind. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast pastina in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add to simmering broth. Slice or chop sausage; add to saucepan with juices. Cook, stirring, until pastina is al dente and sausage is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Drizzle escarole with vinegar; season with salt and pepper and divide evenly among bowls. Ladle soup over it; top with shaved cheese, fennel fronds, and pepper.

(Candy Work is a certified physician assistant and a registered dietician. She has practiced at Olean Medical Group since 2015.)

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