They say that in addition to the 4 main tastes (Salty, Bitter, Sweet, and Sour) there exists a fifth taste, well-known to eastern cooking, but not as prevalent in western cuisine- "Umami," a Japanese word translating roughly to, "A Plesant savory taste". Some natural foods high in the umami glutamates include mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, fish sauces, seaweed, meat, and soy sauce. The secret infusion of beautiful umami in this soup comes from the aged cheese rinds (Asigo, Parmesan, and Gouda) which I let simmer with the broth. To get the full effect, you GOTTA have the cheese rind!
1Tip: I recently started buying wedges of aged cheese and grating them myself for my various recipes, rather than buy the pre-grated stuff. It saves money and tastes better, plus has a better texture. You might see the price tag on a wedge of cheese and not be impresed, but the quality of flavor you get is so well-worth it, plus, it fluffs up when you grate it, so one wedge can go a long way. Give it a try! Once you make the switch, you'll never want to go back to that stuff in a can or plastic tub! Just make sure you have a trusty, good quality grater around. Of course, this also means you will inevitably end up with the rinds, or heel of the cheese when it's all spent. Don't throw those away! Save them for soups like this one! I recommend waiting on making this recipe until you have accquired the cheese rinds. It really makes the soup! If you get a cheese rind in your bowl of soup, it's good luck (and chewy and tasty)!
2Remove sausage casings if using links. In a stock pot, Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute the crumbled italian sausage, onions, carrots, and celery, until onions are translucent and sausage is almost cooked.
3Drain fat. Add garlic and saute one minute more. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, water, boullion, all seasonings, cheese rinds, beans and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, stir in kale, and simmer 20 minutes.
4Add green beans and Zucchini, simmer about 15-20 minutes more. Keep an eye on the zucchini and don't over cook unless you like soft squishy zucchini. While it simmers for this last stretch, cook the pasta in a separate pot til al-dente. Drain pasta and add to the soup.
5Fine-tune the soup throughout the process and at the end by tasting, adding more water, salt and pepper, as needed to suit your taste. Serve with garlic bread, a salad, and some fresh grated aged cheese. YUM!