Our northwest skies have been gray with temperatures hovering around 60˚ these past two days in stark contrast to the previous umpteen days of clear blue sky, bright sunshine, and 70+˚ weather. I'm not opposed to Autumn at all. In fact, it is one of, if not my favorite season of the year. It's almost like a New Year. Summer is ending, school is starting, things are changing. . . if you think about it, there's not a whole of 'NEW' that happens in January. We go back to the same class at school, we return to the same job, we go back to the same routines after the New Year. I think we force it in January because we are turning the calendar page. That's OK. . . anything to move us forward is a good thing. Speaking of weird-season-orientation, I probably do more "Spring Cleaning" in the fall than I do in the spring! I've cleaned my closet this past week, I've reorganized my office, the laundry room is being threatened with the same vendetta, and the garage is always on the radar, Spring, Summer, Winter, OR Fall!
The gray skies and cooling temperatures invite me to pull out my Soup Recipe Stash. And I must forewarn you, if you don't like Soup or Slow-Cooked Foods, you should probably unsubscribe to this blog right now! This is not strictly a Food Blog, but you are likely to find many more renditions of Slow, Yummy, Filling Food here in the next few weeks and if you don't like that. . . well, you might feel a little uncomfortable in our presence. You are still, of course, welcome. . . we'd never send you packing! We're all about making your life more pleasant!
I'm all about quick, easy, fresh, and light in the summer. But once I start seeing those leaves changing (which happens overnight, by the way!) and start filling a little chill in the air, I'm all about soup, stews, and one-pot wonders. Besides, it's easy to do those types of dishes and still attend the soccer game, teach piano lessons, shuttle the crew, and help with homework. That's MY life, anyway and I need food that is all in ONE pot (crock or not). Hopefully, you'll find a way to get all the members of your family around the table at one time, but if not, you can rest in the fact that they have been provided good nutrition and comfort in knowing that there's always food at home!
So… you're probably wondering what fabulous recipe I'm going to share with you that will make your Friday night football nights more easily managed, huh? Well, let me tell you, it's a recipe for a soup that will knock your socks off. (If it doesn't, just add more pepper! J! Easily remedied.) I first found this recipe in Sunset Magazine in 2003 and it quickly made a home in my recipe basket. My sister-in-law and I make it numerous times in the fall and winter. . . the only difference is that one recipe lasts her a couple of weeks (she only has an 8-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son) and I have three teenagers! BIG difference that I keep trying to warn her about! J It's an Italian recipe and of course, we of Italian descent love it and hope you will, too. . .
Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup
- 2 lbs. hot or mild Italian sausages
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3 qts. fat-skimmed chicken broth (Pacific brand is great if you're not one of those people endowed with time upon time in which to make your own!)
- 2 (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (these are simple white beans, but make sure you get small ones. The big ones will work, but won't render the same texture.)
- 1 T. dried basil
- 2 c. dried large shell-shaped pasta (I prefer 'small' shell pasta personally.)
- 4 qts. Spinach leaves (about 12.oz) (You can also use greens of any kind, such as Swiss chard. . . )
- Salt and pepper
- About 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (Please, oh please, make it FRESH!)
Squeeze sausages from casings (or use bulk sausage) into an 8-10-quart pan over high heat and stir often, breaking the meat apart with a spoon, until browned and crumbly, 8-10 minutes. Spoon out and discard all but 1 T. fat from pan. (or don't. . . depending on how lazy you are that day.)
Add carrots, onion, and garlic; stir often until onion is limp, 5-7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans, and basil, and bring to a boil.
Add pasta, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Skim and discard fat, stir in spinach and cook just until it is wilted, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve soup from the pan, or pour into a tureen (like, "who really does THAT?!" I mean really, if this is quick, easy, and comfortable, who in their right mind pours it into a tureen!). Offer parmesan cheese to add to taste.
Enjoy your Autumn and enjoy this soup many times this autumn.
(There are no pictures of this recipe yet because I've yet to make it this fall! My son was gone all week on Retreat and I made him Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner tonight instead. . . Talk about Comfort Food. . . first GOOD food he had all week. Poor guy.)