Heat olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Carefully add sausage and cook until browned on first side—approximately 3–4 minutes. But don’t be tempted to mess with it—you want a nice crust to form on the bottom!
Turn sausage pieces over and create a little well in the middle of the pan then add bacon. Stir the bacon so it browns on all sides.
Quickly add garlic, letting it cook for only 30 seconds then immediately add carrots, celery and leeks. Sauté about 6–8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add chili powder and Italian seasoning then stir to combine. Add ¼ cup of the chicken broth then scrape up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan (the fond). Add remaining broth, tomato sauce, beans and bay leaf.
Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, uncovered, for approximately 20–25 minutes, stirring often.
Remove bay leaf. Ladle out 2 cups of the soup, avoiding any of the sausage or bacon, and puree the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Return pureed liquid to the soup to thicken.
Stir in chopped spinach then cook an additional 5 minutes before seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and top with plenty of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy.
One Last Thing
Chicken sausage is a great way to reduce the fat without killing flavor!