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Sausage, orzo and white bean soup

My boys love the little sausage meatballs and pasta combo, and grating the carrots and celery makes the preparation and cooking time even faster. Serve with bread if you wish, but the beans and pasta make this a very hardy cold night belly filler! 
Time: 15 minutes preparation | 15-20 minutes cooking  
Serves: 8 
6 free-range pork sausages 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 onion, finely diced  
4 cloves garlic, minced 
2 celery sticks, grated 
2 large carrots, grated 
2 bay leaves  
1 small bunch of thyme  
2 litres (8 cups) chicken stock 
1 teaspoon brown sugar 
1 cup orzo pasta 
1 x 400g (14oz) can cannellini beans 
2 cups greens (baby spinach, cavolo nero, kale or Swiss chard)  
To serve 
Grated parmesan 
Bread (optional)  
With damp hands squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and roll it into small balls. I got seven little meatballs from each sausage. Heat a large pot over high heat, and when hot fry the meatballs in the olive oil until slightly browned. Add the onion and garlic to the meatballs in the pan and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the grated carrots and grated celery and cook for a further minute.  
Tie the bay leaves and thyme together tightly with kitchen string (so they are easy to discard at the end) and add to the pot with the chicken stock, brown sugar, and pasta. Cover and bring to boil. When boiling, reduce the heat to medium/high and cook for 5 minutes or until the pasta is almost cooked. Rinse and drain the cannellini beans and add this to the soup with the greens. Cook for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme bundle.  
Taste and season with pepper (depending on the stock you use, it might not need salt, and the parmesan season the soup too). Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan and serve with bread. 

If eating leftovers the next day, if it is too thick (as the pasta will absorb more liquid and puff up) add a little water to thin. Or, bring the soup to room temperature and freeze it into individual portions and freeze for up to 2 months. 



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