Comfort Pasta Tomato Soup

3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cups small shell pasta
1 tsp salt kosher salt
1 1/2 rehydrated penzeys chopped garlic or 1 1/2 clove fresh garlic minced
1/4 tsp pepper penzeys ground pepper
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 can diced tomato in basil, garlic, oregano
6 cups chicken stock (I use penzeys chicken base)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (whole)
2 bay leaves (penzeys, they hold their shape better during a long simmer process)
6 ounces frozen spinach
2 cups water
2 cups shredded jack cheese

Add Olive Oil to hot stock pot. Add pasta shells and toss to coat completely with the olive oil over med heat. Add salt and pepper and sauté pasta shells stirring often, do not let burn. When pasta shells start turning brown, add garlic and sauté 1 more minute, do not let garlic burn. Add tomato sauce and cook another 2 minutes. Cooking the tomato sauce this way seems to give a deep roasted flavor. Add chopped tomatoes and continue cooking another two minutes.

Your base is now rich and delish tasting!

Add chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Bring to a light boil and reduce to simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups of water and simmer another 20 – 25 minutes uncovered.

Add spinach and simmer another 10 minutes or so, until pasta is plump and fully cooked! Taste and add a dash of salt if needed.

Remember, the pasta is not cooked when you start this dish so the long simmer time not only develops rich flavor, it is necessary to cook the pasta.

Serve in soup bowl and top with shredded cheese.

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