I initially found this recipe on the PBS web site. It was submitted by a home cook, so I've got to give them both credit with a link to the original recipe. However, I modified it to make it easier to prepare, also to add more beans (which I like), and also to reduce the amount of salt. Italian sausage frequently has LOTs of salt, so the meat itself brings major sodium to this soup. Your taste might be different, so you can add salt if you think it needs it.
As for the sausage, you can use links or ground. Simply slit the casings to extract the meat. I use "hot" Italian links by Jenny O, which are made of turkey.
1 to 1.25 pound hot (or mild, your choice) Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, chopped
32 oz. Kitchen Basics unsalted beef broth, or another low-sodium beef broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added Italian style stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 small zucchini, cubed
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added sliced carrots
2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans (or great Northern beans), one can drained, one can undrained
2 cups fresh spinach, packed, rinsed, and torn in half
In a soup pot, brown sausage with garlic. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and zucchini. Season with Italian seasoning and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add carrots and canned beans, along with only one can of the bean liquid. (Using two cans of the liquid makes the soup taste too "beany/briney.") Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes. To finish the soup and add delightful color, turn off the burner, add spinach leaves, stir to wilt, then cover for 5 minutes.
Serve in large bowls, along with a slice of garlic bread and a side salad. Or if you're a Texan like me, make a pan of Lamb's cornbread and a bowl of coleslaw. TexItalian!