To make minestrone, sauté sausage with a variety of vegetables, and then simmer in beef or tomato broth with pasta and beans. Vegetarian minestrone is common, and meat may be left out if desired. An award-winning recipe from TasteofHome.com starts with 1 pound of Italian sausage.
In a Dutch oven or other large pot, brown the sausage with a large chopped onion over medium heat. Add 2 large chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery ribs and 1 medium chopped leek, and cook for three minutes. Stir in a chopped zucchini, 1/4 pound of fresh snapped and cut green beans and 3 cloves of minced garlic, then cook for another minute.
Pour 6 cups of beef broth into the pot, along with 2 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, 3 cups of shredded cabbage, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove the lid, return to a boil and add 1/2 cup of uncooked pasta shells and a 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans. Cook uncovered until the pasta is tender. Serve garnished with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.