December 25, 2011

Soup for Christmas Eve

Yesterday (Christmas Eve), I was really in the mood for my Mom and Dad's Italian Vegetable Supper Soup.  I thought it would be the perfect light dinner to have after playing for the 6 PM service at church.

I went to our new neighborhood HyVee, and man, were people ever grouchy.  Not the clerks, mind you- just the customers!  And every employee I interacted with commented how grinchy people had been all day long.  So, I went out of my way to be pleasant, even when there wasn't garlic bread or Graziano's sausage left.  I just bought some French bread, and we garlicked it ourselves.  I also bought Hyvee's in-house Italian sausage.  Christmas was not ruined.  Heh.

I left Jeffrey cooking as I went to church, but he unintentionally didn't quite follow the recipe.  And now a new classic is born!  It's kind of like Jonas Salk discovering the cure for penicillen by accident.  But in our case, without the mold.  Serendipity!

Jeffrey's Italian Vegetable and Bean Soup
yield = 6-8 servings 

1                package (1 pound) soup bean mix
1                pound lean ground beef
1                tablespoon olive oil
1                large white onion, finely chopped
1                cup peeled, diced carrots
1                cup diced celery
2                cloves garlic, chopped
1/2             teaspoon dried basil
1/2             teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2             teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2             teaspoon dried oregano
1/2             teaspoon thyme
1/2             teaspoon table salt
1/4             teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
8                cups chicken broth or stock
1                medium unpeeled zucchini, chopped
1/2             cup small shell pasta

1.  Bring 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add beans, cook 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat.  Let the beans sit for 1 hour, then drain.

2.  Brown and drain the ground beef.  Set aside.  Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  When shimmering, add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened and started to lightly brown (about 10 minutes).  Add garlic, spices, and seasonings and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Remove from heat. 

3.  Add chicken broth or stock to a large pot.  Add drained beans, cooked vegetables, and ground beef.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 1 hour.  Stir in zucchini and pasta and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Serve with warm, crusty bread and enjoy.

Notes:  This is a great, thick, chunky soup.  If you want to make it brothier, we won't tell.  We like it chunky, but to each his own. :)

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