I made a large batch of this soup last Sunday, the fennel gave it such a delicious flavor and it was easy to make and very nice for a second meal. If you want to use celery instead you could and perhaps add in some spinach or escarole. The more vegetables the better, and of course omit the sausage for a vegetarian version.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk or links, casings removed
1 carrot, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 boxes of low sodium chicken broth
1 can of small diced tomatoes
1/2 package small pasta pieces
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat, add the sausage and brown it. Set aside and then add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pot; add the onion, fennel and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes until tender. Add the sausage back in and add the beans and tomatoes, chicken broth and pasta. Simmer the soup for about an hour.