Chock-full of in-season and good-for-you ingredients made in a single pot, this summer stew offers savory Italian sausage and seasoning among rich tomato juices and tender onion, bell pepper, and zucchini. You’re sure to love it!
I’m not COMPLAINING, per se, but it’s hard coming back from a 4-day weekend! I was all beach waves (aka frizzy all-natural Nicole) and sans make-up for a few days straight there. Sure, it rained BUCKETS and BUCKETS on my birthday, but I woke up with quite literally ZERO plans (other than hockey that night) and ended up with a house FULL of many of my favorite people, including my brother from Chicago (impromptu cruise out of state, sure!) and bestie from Chicago who just so happened to be cruising by on her way back to the city. I said I got to do bloodies (Bloody Marys) on my birthday with my peeps and that is what anyone would want on their birthday, especially if that day is sandwiched between two days off. So much yes!
On the topic of Bloody Marys, they’ve grown on me. Tomatoes, in general, have grown on me. I love them these days and tomato-based anything tends to be a win in my house, even with the kids. I feel fortunate about that, too! This tomato-based soup was slurped up by all and used our garden’s first summer haul of zucchini. Yum!
ROLL CALL FOR THIS RECIPE
- Garden Haul: Summer is here and gardens are overflowing with fresh vegetables and this soup helps you put to use those fresh zucchini to great use! There’s more tips below on what other fresh produce and herbs you can use in this stew! The sky is the limit and I love that! Also wonderful that zucchini and the other produce items are available year-round in most regions and so this soup, while perfect for summer, is truly perfect any time! Recipes like these are a great way to utilize your yield while serving up a homemade meal with exemplary nutritional information and offerings.
- One Pot: One large pot, that’s all you need. If your kitchen is void a large soup pot or large Dutch oven, do yourself a solid and get one! One pot wonders are always in season and the chef and dishwasher (perhaps one in the same!) are forever thankful for those simple meals that reheat great and are often even better on days 2 and beyond – such a bonus!
- Carb Conscious Friends: Low-carb meals can feel a bit unsatisfying, right?! I know it’s not just me. There’s something about a chunky stew that is FULL of turkey sausage, diced zucchini, and tomato sauce that ends up completely satisfying. The whole family will enjoy and never even know that what they’re devouring is incredibly nutritious!
KEY INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Olive Oil: You can absolutely substitute in another oil of choice, such as vegetable or avocado oil. With Italian flavors, I’m an advocate for extra-virgin olive oil, however!
- Onion: Yellow or sweet onions are recommended but feel free to use red onion or white onion, if you prefer. I tend to buy and use medium onion as a default. You may also omit this ingredient, if you wish.
- Garlic: Fresh, large cloves are best here (there’s something about rich tomato-y flavors with fresh garlic that is so very lust-worthy), but feel free to omit or swap in 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder. To keep the prep easy, jarred, chopped garlic or garlic paste works, too.
- Italian Sausage: Sweet Italian sausage come in turkey, pork, and chicken sausage varieties. I love the turkey sausage to keep the stew light and lower in fat. If you prefer to use a hot Italian sausage (aka spicy Italian sausage), those are generally available in both pork and turkey versions, as well. Italian sausage is sometimes sold in bulk versus in casings – either is great! The sausage meat generally contains fennel seeds and Italian seasoning that give it rich flavors that make for a flavorful soup and stew.
- Bell Pepper: Any colors is good here, I just opted for yellow or orange to give some color contrast to the red tomatoes and green zucchini. That said, any sweet peppers works great!
- Zucchini: You can swap in yellow squash for zucchini here, if you’d like!
- Italian Seasoning: A combination of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme, Italian seasoning can be increased, decreased, or individual spices uses versus the mix so that you can increase or decrease the individual herbs as you prefer! If you would rather use fresh herbs, triple the amount as used dried.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: This ingredient adds a touch of heat that is a great flavor balance to the sweet tomatoes and savory sausage. Use more or less to your liking and heat preference.
- Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes: Regular, canned diced tomatoes will work here, the fire-roasted version adds additional flavor and a bit of beautiful char throughout. If you prefer to use 1-2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes, have at it!
- Tomato Puree: Tomato purée made from blending cooked tomatoes and is thicker and with a deeper flavor than tomato sauce, while being very low in sodium. You can certainly substitute in tomato sauce, however.
- Chicken Broth: Swap in beef, vegetable, or chicken stock, broth, or bone broth – you choose! Go with a low-sodium option as you can always add more salt later and Italian sausage (turkey or pork) are relatively high in sodium.
- Low-Carb: This stew is about 8 grams of carbohydrate per cup, much of which is fiber all of which comes from vegetables and fruit (tomatoes are a fruit, if you recall!)
- Allergen-Friendly: This recipe is naturally gluten-free (double check the broth and sausage!), dairy-free, and grain-free
- Tomatoes are very high in lycopene, an antioxidant that has loads of science to support its fight against prostate cancer, as well as cancers and can protect heart health while helping to prevent sunburns, as well!
Why does the recipe call for medium zucchini?
Medium zucchini, about 8-10 inches long or smaller, helps to avoid overly seedy or mushy/spongy zucchinis. To hold up to the simmer time in the stew, the medium-sized work great to provide both the volume and structure.
With a tomato base, do you need a bit of sugar to cut the acid and enhance the flavor?
It’s certainly not wrong to add a bit of sugar, but there is hidden sugar in both processed meats such as Italian sausage as well as most commonly sold broths. Try without and add if you wish! Start with just a teaspoon if you go this direction – you can always add more, if desired.
What’s the easiest way to remove casings from links of Italian sausage?
Take the tip of a sharp knife and run it the length of the sausage. Pick up the sausage in the middle, lifting by the cut in the casing. A shake up and down over the pot is generally enough to have the ground sausage easily fall from the casing. Discard the casings.
What makes this a stew versus a soup?
This recipe has large chunks of veggies and sausage and is thicker liquid base and unlike soups, the main ingredient in this dish is the vegetables and meat, not the liquid – just enough liquid to cover the ingredients in the pot.
VARIATIONS, STORAGE, and TIPS
- You can load this stew up with tons of extra veggies, such as green beans, whole tomatoes (small) that will breakdown as they simmer, mushrooms, broccoli, chard, kale, spinach…the sky is the limit! Pretty much any veggie would be a great option, but may alter your simmer time for something more dense like a potato (plan on adding 10-15 minutes).
- Italian soup is always enhanced with a bit of cheese! You can certainly add finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese at the end and/or add Parmesan rinds during the simmering time. Parmesan rinds are fun to toss in the freezer in small baggies to use for such occasions. Simply simmer away and remove before serving.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The stew is truly better on days 2 and beyond – yum!!
- If available, add a bit of chopped fresh basil to this dish to enhance all of the flavors.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 links (19.5 oz) sweet Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 3 medium zucchini, 1-inch chop
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (28 oz) can tomato puree
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and stir; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the turkey sausages (no casings) and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon into a crumble as it cooks. Cook for 5-7 minutes, continuing to crumble as it cooks.
- Add the diced bell pepper and zucchini; stir and cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
- Season the veggies and sausage with the Italian seasoning, black pepper, and red pepper flakes; stir well.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and broth; bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until veggies are tender and broth has reduced and consistency is stew-like. Serve hot.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 9.9gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 815mgCarbohydrates: 16.6gFiber: 4.0gSugar: 9.5gProtein: 14.3g
Love zucchini? It’s so, so versatile!
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- Rigatoni with Turkey Sausage, Tomato, and Zucchini
- Ground Turkey Skillet with Zucchini, Corn, Black Beans, and Tomato
- Grilled Goat Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Cheesy BBQ Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Zucchini Enchilada Lasagna
- Best Ever Zucchini Bread
- Tex Mex Chicken and Zucchini Skillet
- Zucchini and Pumpkin Muffins with Cranberries and Chocolate Chips