Pasta Fagioli

We are entering cold weather season here in Indiana and nothing to me says “welcome cold weather” like a big bowl of warm and comforting soup! Pasta Fagioli – which basically means “pasta and beans” – is quickly becoming one of my favorite soups! It is hearty, warm, cooks up in no time and is only 4 ingredients! FOUR! Can you believe that? Print this out, save it, bookmark it, whatever you want to do – just keep this recipe and make it this weekend!

Pasta Fagioli

1 jar “Ragu Chunky” pasta sauce with tomato, basil and garlic
2 cans (19 oz each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
16 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups reserved pasta water
4 cups water

To prepare the spinach: microwave the frozen spinach in a microwave safe container for four minutes. Using a fork, cut up and separate. Do not drain the spinach.

To prepare the pasta: cook in a large amount of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil added. Cook according to package directions.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce, prepared kidney beans, prepared chopped spinach, pasta and reserved pasta water. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in four cups of water and simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Enjoy!

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Chew This! Broccoli Cheese Soup

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday!!! I am so excited to be bringing everyone this recipe for “Broccoli Cheese Soup”! It is absolutely delicious, and perfect for the upcoming winter months! Make a batch at the beginning of the week, and have it for a warm dinner all week long. This recipe can also be easily doubled or tripled for family events or large family dinners! Try it and let me know what you think! (blaisethebaker@gmail.com)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 18th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Warm and comforting soup, perfect for colder months ahead…
Blaise Doubman

Growing up I was never really a fan of soup, but gradually as I matured, I learned (and was taught) that making soup was really an art, and I grew to love and respect it. Looking back, the art of making soup was really in my genes. My Grandma Barbra makes the absolute best potato soup, my Mom makes the best chili (isn’t chili a soup?), my Grandma Deloris is known for her oyster soup, and my Grandpa Max used to make the best beef stew that ever hit my lips. With all of this delicious soup-making in my history, you would think I would have grown up loving it! But that wasn’t the case… Maybe I didn’t think it was substantial enough to consider it a meal, or even to give it a try.

Over the years though, I’ve learned a lot of the tricks of the trade, so to speak, when making soups. I have learned that each person makes their soups a little different than the person who taught them before, and I’ve learned that you have to have patience! Patience is defined as, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay” which I have had to really work hard on over the years. I find now though, that making soup is a stress reliever! Standing, stirring and watching the pot slowly simmer, is just about the perfect way of taking your mind away to a less stressful place. There’s also something about a warm bowl of soup that just hits the spot on cold and blustery days. They may not be here yet, but they’re coming believe me, and when they’re here you will want to have this recipe handy!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This soup is the perfect combination of broccoli and cheese. You would think that the cheese would overwhelm the delicate taste of the broccoli, but it doesn’t in this recipe. Boiling the broccoli first ensures that the broccoli will be tender and flavorful in the final soup. Serve with crackers if desired.

1 small bunch of broccoli
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
2 ½ cups whole milk
½ pound (8 oz.) Velveeta-brand cheese, cubed
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup sour cream

Start by removing the tops of the broccoli, discarding the stalks and chopping the tops into fine pieces. Place the chopped broccoli in a large pot, with one cup of the water and teaspoon salt and place over high heat. Once brought up to a boil, cover the pot with a lid and allow to boil on high for five minutes. This will tenderize the broccoli.

Once the broccoli has boiled for five minutes, add the chicken broth, whole milk, cubed cheese and butter. Adjust the heat to medium, stirring to incorporate everything, making sure the soup doesn’t come to a boil.

In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch with the remaining ½ cup of water and stir until no lumps are visible.

Add this mixture to the soup and stir until thickened.

In a separate bowl, combine sour cream with one cup of the hot soup mixture and stir until evenly combined. Add this mixture to the soup, and stir well.

Bring the soup up to a near boil, lower the temperature slightly and serve warm.

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