“It’s Italian” Sausage Soup

1-pound Italian sausage (casings removed, if necessary)
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 medium-sized carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 can (14 ½ oz.) diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp rosemary
½ tsp basil
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
3 cans (14 oz. each) low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup orzo pasta
Finely shredded parmesan cheese, optional

1. In large skillet, combine Italian sausage, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until sausage is cooked through, stirring occasionally to break into bite-size pieces.
2. In a 4 ½ to 6-quart slow cooker, combine carrots and celery. Place sausage mixture on top of vegetables.
3. In medium-size bowl, combine tomatoes with their juices, and herbs. Pour over sausage mixture. Pour chicken broth over everything.
4. Cover slow cooker; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
5. Raise temperature to high-heat setting. Stir in pasta. Cover slow cooker: cook for 20 minutes longer.
6. Remove and discard bay leaf, If desired, serve with parmesan cheese. Makes 8 servings.

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