Asparagus, Fiddlehead, Porcini & Italian Sausage Soup

Shared by Christine Dutton, asparagus fiend, in honor of the May Local Hero Challenge. Click here to learn more about the Challenge. 

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery
3 32 oz boxes of good quality organic beef broth
7 “grinds” of black pepper
Sea salt to taste
1 tsp-2 tsp dried basil
2 oz dried porcini
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
1.5 lbs. mild Italian sausage
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 lb fiddleheads
1 lb. small pasta such as ditalini or orzo
1 big handful of fresh basil (not chopped)

Cover porcini with water and soak for 20 minutes. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large stockpot. Cook garlic, stirring, until lightly brown. Add another Tbsp olive oil, red onion and celery and cook until translucent, about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef broth, black pepper, sea salt and dried basil. Squeeze out water from porcini and chop. Add with porcini water and chopped porcini to broth. Cook Italian sausage in a skillet. Chop Italian sausage into small bites and add to stockpot. Simmer soup for additional 20 minutes then add chopped tomatoes. In the meantime, begin boiling water for pasta and in steamer for asparagus and fiddle heads. Boil pasta and steam vegetables. Chop asparagus into small bites. Ladle soup into large shallow bowls and add small pasta, asparagus, fiddleheads. Garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan.