Monday, October 15, 2012

Soup's On!

Friday night, we got the warning:  Freeze! 

With the frost announcement, we jumped into action, bringing in the plants we planned to over-winter in the house and turning on the heat.  The first time this Fall, it became clear that Winter was indeed going to come.  Gone will be the warm days and slightly cool evenings.  Soon, there will be snow and ice and all those things.  

But between now and then, we do have a space of time with bright orange and red leaves falling from the sky, landing on the sidewalks, ready to crunch under our feet.   Baking seems feasible, even delightful.   Soup seems just right. 

I don't get a lot of time during lunch to cook, so I was thinking about making some quick pasta and sauce.  On went the pot of water, in went a box of ditalini, which are easy for our son to grab with a kid spoon (or more frequently his hands).  But as the pasta boiled, I realized I'd misjudged the amount of water.  The pasta was almost at the top as it boiled, and I realized it looked like there was a lovely noodle soup in the pot.  I changed gears, added several teaspoons of no-sodium chicken broth powder, some smoked paprika and basil, and a can of red kidney beans including its water.  I let it come back to a boil, added some chopped up greens for the last few minutes, and.... hey presto:  Pasta e Fagioli!   If you want to (and can), this is great with a little parmesean shredded overtop. 

Quick Pasta e Fagioli

2 Quarts water, boiling
1/2 a 1 lb box (8 oz) Ditalini (if you're using rice pasta, try Tinkyayada elbows or mini shells)
1 12-oz can of  red or pink kidney beans, or cannelini beans, with water
2 T no-sodium chicken broth powder, or enough dissolved boullion cubes to make 2 Q of broth.
1 t dried basil
1 t smoked paprika
Large handful of chopped greens: spinach, kale, chard, etc. 
salt and pepper to taste 
drizzle olive oil, optional
  1. Boil the water
  2. Add the noodles and cook until nearly tender.
  3. Add the broth powder, basil and paprika and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add the can of beans and simmer until warm, just a couple minutes.
  5. Add the handful of greens and stir until they are cooked to a bright green, again only a couple minutes.
  6. Serve in warm bowls with salt and pepper to taste, a optionally a drizzle of olive oil and/or a few shreds of parmesean
Note: If you're using rice noodles, this is just as easy to do, but I recommend straining the pasta first.  Add to 2 Q of warm chicken broth (from bullion cubes, powder, home- or pre-made)

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