If you've enjoyed Pasta e Fagioli Soup in a restaurant, you might like this lower-carb Zucchini e Fagioli that pumps up the flavor with Italian sausage and ground beef and switches out the pasta for low-carb zucchini noodles! This tasty soup is low-glycemic, gluten-free, and South Beach Diet friendly; use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.
It's definitely soup weather in Utah, so lately I've been making soup in the Instant Pot, in the slow cooker, and on the stove! Every winter I love making soup, but since I already have hundreds of soup recipes on the blog, more often than not a new soup recipe has been inspired by an earlier favorite.
This Slow Cooker Zucchini e Fagioli Soup with Italian Sausage and Ground Beef is a lower-carb version of the Slow Cooker Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli Soup that I've served so many times for my annual soup party. I switched it up by adding both ground beef and turkey Italian sausage and replacing the pasta in the soup with chopped zucchini noodles, which cut down the carbs quite a bit. I also cut down the fagioli (beans) to just one can.
I kept 1/2 cup of carrots for color, but you could eliminate carrots and beans and use more zucchini if you wanted an even lower-carb version of this tasty soup. (Except that would be zucchini e zucchini soup, wouldn't it?)
Ground fennel and Parmesan rind are two things I used to make the flavor outstanding in this soup, and I urge you to use ground fennel when you season the vegetables, and also to add a few chunks of Parmesan rind to the soup when it cooks if you have those ingredients. But even if you don't have either of those, if you like the flavors in soup like this with tomatoes, Italian sausage, ground beef, garlic, and a touch of spicy, I bet you'll love this new soup!
Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan; then cook the Italian sausage and ground beef until it's nicely browned, breaking it apart with a turner as it cooks. (Or you can use a potato masher to break the meat apart, which is what I do!) While the meat cooks, chop the onion and carrots (if using.) When meat is browned, add it to the slow cooker and lightly saute the onions and carrot in the same pan for about 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and all the seasonings and cook 1-2 minutes more. Put the vegetable mixture into the slow cooker.
While vegetables are cooking, rinse and drain the beans. If you're lucky enough to have some Parmesan rind saved in the freezer, chop up some of that. Add the drained beans, petite dice tomatoes, beef stock and Parmesan rind (if using), to the soup and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or slightly longer if your slow cooker cooks a bit cooler.
When the soup has cooked for nearly 3 hours, use your preferred method to make zucchini noodles and then coarsely chop the noodles until you have 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini (or more if you're omitting beans and/or carrots). Add the zucchini to the soup and cook 30-45 minutes more (or a bit longer if you want the zucchini to be really soft. When the soup is done, stir in 2 T balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and fresh-ground pepper.
Slow Cooker Zucchini e Fagioli Soup with Italian Sausage and Ground Beef
(Makes 6-8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Slow Cooker Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli Soup.)
Just like in the higher-carb vegetarian version, I used my Six-Quart Ninja Cooker to make this soup, but any 5-6 quart slow cooker will work. If you're using the Ninja Cooker, you can saute the meat and vegetables right in the slow cooker.
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 or 3 links (8-12 oz.) turkey Italian sausage
(If you want to use the whole package of sausage, just add a little more beef broth.)
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
one medium onion chopped small
1 T minced garlic (we used garlic from a jar)
1 tsp. Italian Herb Blend
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning
1 tsp. ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 can (15 oz.) small red beans, rinsed in a colander and drained
7-8 cups beef broth (4 cans, 15 oz. each, or use homemade beef stock)
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
a few pieces of chopped Parmesan rind if you have them
1 1/2 cup chopped zucchini noodles (or more if you are omitting beans and /or carrots)
2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan (or in the Ninja Cooker), add the ground beef and Italian sausage and cook over medium-high heat until it's nicely browned, breaking apart with a turner or potato masher while it cooks. When it's browned well, put the meat into the slow cooker. Add the other teaspoon of oil to the frying pan, add the carrots and onions, and cook about 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic, Italian Herb Blend, Spike Seasoning, ground fennel, and red pepper flakes and cook about 2 minutes more. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker.
Add the beef stock, petite diced tomatoes, and drained beans to the slow cooker, with some pieces of Parmesan rind if you're lucky enough to have some. Cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. (The Ninja cooks a little hot, so you might need a little more than 3 hours if you're using a different slow cooker.)
When the soup has cooked about 3 hours, make zucchini noodles using the method you prefer; then coarsely chop the noodles until you have 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini (or a bit more if you are omitting the beans or carrots.) Add zucchini to the soup and cook 30-45 minutes more, or until the zucchini is done to your liking.
Remove the Parmesan rind if it hasn't all dissolved. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and season soup to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. (Taste before salting if you use the Parmesan, because it's a bit salty.) Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan to add at the table if desired.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Carrots aren't recommended for Phase One on the South Beach Diet, so if you want to eat this for Phase One you should probably omit the carrots (although truthfully I wouldn't lose sleep over 1/2 cup carrots in 8 servings of soup.) If you want the lowest-carb version of this soup, omit the beans and carrots and use more zucchini as described above.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn's Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I'm sharing there.
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you're a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.
More Tasty Soup with Zucchini Noodles:
Low-Carb Turkey Soup with Zucchini Noodles ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Roast Chicken Pho Zucchini Noodle Soup ~ White on Rice Couple
Low-Carb Italian Sausage Soup with Tomatoes and Zucchini Noodles ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Thai Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Soup ~ Mother Rimmy's Recipes
Low-Carb Turkey, Mushroom, and Zucchini Noodle Soup ~ Kalyn's Kitchen