My mother sent me a picture of snowy Floyd county yesterday, reminding me that it's still winter in much of the country (it's easy to forget when you live in Los Angeles).
The picture made me remember how lovely fresh snow is, and also how nice it is to get a day off to hole up inside and eat warm and toasty things by the fireside. That is another thing about LA—we don't get snow days. It's always go, go, go!
And I've been on the go lately. Over the weekend, I caught a fabulous Ryan Adams concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, my favorite venue in the city (the night was made even more stellar by a great meal beforehand at Lazy Ox Canteen, one of my favorite restaurants).
But I had a quite night at home last night. Got back to cooking by whipping up a great pasta dish with fresh pappardelle pasta, jumbo asparagus, red peppers, and spicy chicken sausage. I also made a side salad of mixed greens with dried cherries, sunflower seeds, and feta (I love making winter salads with dried fruit and nuts and tangy cheeses). It was nice to have a night off from the world.
Today, I'm off to the farmers market to stock up for the week. While a part of my just wants to stay home and work on my book (halfway through!!), I know that I'll regret it if I don't go. Where else can you get produce of that quality at that price point? And the freshest fish ever? I'm going...
This week's recipe is a warm and comforting soup that's perfect for snowy winter days. I'm sure there will be a few more ahead before winter has said its piece. This Tuscan White Bean Spinach Soup also contains whole wheat orzo, though regular will work, too. It's made with a tomato-broth. There's something about the white bean-spinach-tomato combo that just works.
I like to finish it with freshly shaved parmigiano reggiano and cracked pepper. One other note on the recipe—if you have a parmesan rind lying about, you can toss it into the soup for an extra rich broth.
Now I'm hungry...
Tuscan White Bean Spinach Soup
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 40 minutes
- 1/2 cup whole wheat orzo (regular works, too)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- pinch of chili flakes
- 1 can (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes
- 2 cans (14 oz.) of white beans (any sort will work)
- 4 cups of fresh spinach
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- parmigiano reggiano for grating
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until beginning to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute for one more minute.
- Add the tomatoes, stock, and white beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about twenty minutes.
- Add the orzo and simmer in the soup for about ten more minutes, or until the orzo is becoming tender. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until tender. (Note: the consistency may be adjusted by adding more or less stock).
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into a bowl. Top with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!