- 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe (a large bundle)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds bulk Italian sweet or hot sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or very thinly sliced
- 1 red chili pepper, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- A few grates of nutmeg
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- About 3/4 cup orecchietti pasta
- Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for topping
- Crusty bread, such as ciabatta
In a medium size pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil over medium heat, then salt the water. Trim the broccoli rabe and cut it into 1 1/2-2-inch lengths. Simmer in boiling water to reduce the bitterness, about 4-5 minutes, then cold shock in ice water and drain very well.
Heat a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO, a turn of the pan. Add the sausage and brown and crumble, 7-8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and chili pepper and cook for a few minutes more. Add the thyme and lemon zest, then add the broccoli rabe and season with a little nutmeg. Stir in the stock and the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors. Turn off the heat, cool and store for a make-ahead meal.
Reheat the stoup over low heat and bring to a low boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, about 10 minutes. Ladle the stoup into shallow bowls and garnish with cheese. Serve with crusty bread for mopping.