Italian Sausage Pasta Soup

I shared my vegetable beef soup recipe with a gal at Intel, and she gave me this recipe in return. Good on a cold night.

Makes about a 5 ½ quarts; 10-12 servings

2 lbs hot or mild Italian sausage or mix of both
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 quarts chicken broth
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 T fresh or dried basil
2 C small shell pasta
4 quarts spinach leaves (~12 oz)
Salt & pepper
1 C fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Squeeze sausage from casings into 10 qt soup pot over high heat. Brown, stirring often and breaking apart with wooden spoon. Spoon out and discard all but 1 T fat from pan.

Add carrots, onion, garlic and stir until onion is soft, 5-7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans and basil and bring to boil.

Add pasta, reduce heat, and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Skim and discard fat. Stir in spinach and cook just till it is wilted, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup with parmesan cheese on top, if desired.