After all of the potatoes have been slices and are waiting patiently in cold water, we can move on to the Italian sausage.
If your Italian sausage came in casing like mine did, the first step will be to remove the loose meat from inside the casing. This is really easy to do. Just slice each link down the length of one side. Then, just peel off the casing and you will be left with loose Italian sausage, which is what we want. Just a note of caution, don't put the casings into your garbage disposal because they are fairly tough and could get stuck inside the disposal. Just throw the casings in the trash instead.
Next, put all of the Italian sausage into a frying pan or the same pot you are going to be making the soup in, and brown it. Make sure all of the sausage is thoroughly cooked and no pink parts remain. Even though meat in the U.S. is quite clean and despite all you hear about not eating undercooked meat, the chances of getting sick are actually quite low. But, raw pork can contain the parasite, Trichinella spiralis
, so it is always best to cook all meat well.
After the sausage is cooked, drain the excess fat. Then, since we will require the services of our cooking vessel for the next step, put the sausage into a bowl to be reintroduced into the soup a little later.
Before going on to the next step though, make sure you wash your hands, knife, cutting board, spoon, and whatever else could have come into contact with the raw pork. It is always best to avoid cross-contamination of raw meat into other foods.