Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pasta e Fagioli - Thankful for simplicity this holiday season

There are countless recipes swirling around this week for your holiday dinner -- I've been captivated by so many delicious options for Thanksgiving turkey roasting and side dishes that I can hardly decide!  Let's get realistic.  I love to cook, but I also have a life, and knowing that I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen for the holidays, I am all about simple recipes that will make wonderful meals and leftovers. It is my built-in break from all things turkey, dressing, and pies!

I referenced this recipe in the earlier Italian Wedding Soup post - We bought a bag of frozen Italian meatballs, fresh spinach, chicken stock, spaghetti sauce, and a few miscellaneous items and made two big pots of soup. The weather was cold, the soup was warm and comforting, and the time in the kitchen was minimal.  Clean up was simple, left overs were plentiful.  Just like most soup recipes - the flavors only get better!

Consider this time saving soup recipe to be your gift to yourself and your family this holiday season.  With just 15 minutes of kitchen investment, you'll have warm, healthy dinners and lunches to free you up to enjoy your time together!


1/2 Bag Frozen Italian Meatballs
1 lb Italian Sausage, removed from casing
Olive Oil
1 Onion, Chopped
1-2 Cans Dark Red Kidney Beans, Drained
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Large Jar (45 oz) Spaghetti Sauce (I used a very basic store brand)
1 Box Pasta (I used mini rotini)
1/2 Bag Fresh Spinach
Grated Parmesan for topping (Optional)

Put 2 tablespoons of Olive oil in a large stockpot and turn on medium heat.  
Remove the Italian sausage from the casings, and brown it in the stock pot.  
Add the chopped onion halfway through browning the sausage, letting it cook until translucent.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the sausage and onion, and stir until incorporated.
Add the entire jar of spaghetti sauce.
Fill up the empty jar of spaghetti sauce with water and add to pot. 
Fill up spaghetti sauce jar with water again and add to pot.
Add meatballs (I like to cut them in half).
Drain Beans, and add to stock pot.
When pot comes to a boil, add box of pasta.
Stir and reduce heat to low.
Cook until pasta reaches desired tenderness.  
Add spinach to pot (no need to cut).
Turn off heat.
Put lid on pot.  
Give it a few minutes for the spinach to wilt, and serve when ready.  
Top with grated parmesan - you can probably tell from the photo below that I love freshly grated parmesan.  This was grated using a microplane - and is one of the few specialty kitchen items worth its valuable but small space in the kitchen. Microplanes were originally designed as a woodworking tool, and they are invaluable for grating hard cheeses and zesting citrus fruit.

Things to consider
I like my soups thick and hearty - add more water or vegetable stock for a "soupier" consistency.
This is one of my favorite recipes from my Mom, and she mentioned that the past few times she has made it with smaller pasta than the rotini - try Orzo or Ditali.
When making pasta soups, the leftovers may be a bit "condensed" (the pasta soaks up much of the broth) we always add a bit of water when reheating.
For a little variation - add one can of white beans and one can of red kidney beans (drained).
Would you like more vegetables? Consider adding chopped carrots and/or bell pepper when you sauté the onion.  
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, and lots of warm soup!

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