I love soup. For me, it's one of those "perfect foods". Easy to make, easy to eat, easy to freeze and store and take out again when you're feeling low, desperate for a little comfort.
It's also a fabulous vehicle for some of the things you like to eat best: and for me, that list would have to include tomatoes and fresh pasta.
We've just gotten over some relatively serious germs in this house (again). And today, I am finally ready to return to the kitchen for my own pleasure. There are few things more challenging than having to cook well planned, balanced meals for people who are NOT feeling greebly, when YOU, the Chef, most certainly ARE. But today, I finally woke up (at the crack of dawn... thank-you, three-year-old) feeling as though I actually WANTED to concoct something yummy to eat... something warm, on this slightly chilly day, something nutritious that would replenish my energy... something GOOD.
And so, soup it is. With fresh pasta. And tomatoes. And spinach, actually, since I'm one of "those people" who doesn't cringe at the thought of a few slightly wilted leaves floating around. I feel a bit like a weakened Popeye, today, and so spinach, it is.
Now, if you've been reading this blog over the past year, you will know that I am a tomato fanatic, and that I am enough of a "purist" that I tend to pontificate about fresh produce-- the more locally grown, the better. But, at this time of year, there are no fresh, locally grown tomatoes to be had, and so for this recipe, I use the canned variety. But believe it or not, canned can be GOOD. I've found a brand that does a diced tomato very nicely-- with a little bit of Italian seasoning-- and the results are pretty good. Still not as good as fresh would be, but remarkably, pretty damn close.
Here is the recipe for an easy soup. Easy, and delicious. Ab-so-lute-ly perfect when eaten while sitting on the patio with your feet up, in the spring sunshine.
I sure plan to.
4 or 5 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 28 oz can of diced plum tomatoes... juice and all
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 package of fresh pasta-- I have found a lovely whole-wheat medaglioni with chicken and rosemary at our local grocery store... There's another with sun-dried tomatoes and cheese... whatever floats your boat!
A few handfuls of baby spinach, if you like
salt and pepper to taste
Throw everything but the pasta and spinach into a large soup pot on the stove, and heat to the boiling point. Toss in the pasta and cook 'till done, then add the spinach, and allow it to just wilt-up a little bit.
Serve, sprinkled with romano, asiago or parmesan cheese...
(Or, all three, if you're hungry and greedy like me.)