Are you ready for some
While the NFL season officially opened on Thursday evening, today marks its official start in the Betty and Boo house. It's the season opener for our Philadelphia Eagles, an event that should have its own national holiday (complete with day off from work on Monday).
Truth be told, this is The Husband's day moreso than mine. Game Day Morning has been on since 11 a.m. I'm a casual observer of football, to put it mildly. (I just had to ask The Husband who our Eagles will be playing.) While he will be in his recliner for most of the day, watching games, checking his laptop, I'm content to have it on in the background as I read blogs and books ... and make soup.
Ah yes ... I'm ready for some soup. Opening day for the Eagles marks the Official Opening Day of Soup Season here in our house. There is something about football on Sunday and soup that I absolutely love. It's been tradition for probably close to 15 years now - we're not sure when this started - for me to make a pot o' soup (or stew, or chili, or chowder) every Sunday during football season.
Before Betty and Boo came along, most of these concoctions were most-of-the-day endeavors, stirring and tasting and simmering a pot of stove-top goodness. I'll still make an occasional Sunday soup on the stove (there was a Tomato Gouda Soup that I made for The Husband and Our Best Man once time that I might want to bring back this season), but more often than not, the crockpot tends to get more of a workout these days. (It sits on the counter all year 'round, not just during the fall, although fall is its busy season.)
Some of the soups are longtime favorites. There's a Mushroom Barley soup that, according to my notes, I made on September 29, 2002 as the first meal in our new house. There's a Cream of Tomato Soup that makes an appearance several times a season. If one of us is under the weather, I'll make a version of Matzo Ball soup with baby carrots and rice.
And then, of course, there will be the new soups that come our way this fall and winter, ones that might become new favorites. Like the one that is currently simmering in the crockpot as I type.
Today I'm making a modified version of Stephanie O'Dea's crockpot recipe for Pasta Fagioli, from her wonderful blog, A Year of Crockpotting. I think I've made this before, but I didn't make any notes in the cookbook (Make It Fast, Cook It Slow). While I would be content with soup and bread, perhaps a green salad, that's not going to cut it for the kids. I'm thinking mozzarella sticks as a side.
Here's Stephanie's recipe, with my changes in italics:
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained (omitted)
1/2 large red onion, chopped (used a regular onion)
1 cup carrots, chopped (omitted)
2 celery stalks, sliced (omitted ... I hate celery)
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (and juice)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups beef broth (I used two Not Beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups hot water)
1 jar (16.5 oz) pasta sauce (I made homemade tomato sauce earlier this week and used that)
2 tsp oregano
1 T Tabasco sauce (no thank you ... omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup dry pasta, to add at end of cooking time (Stephanie used Trader Joe's brown rice fusilli: I am either going to use ditalini or shells)
Use a 6 quart or larger crockpot, or cut the recipe in half. This makes a lot.
Brown the meat on the stovetop, and drain well. Let it cool a bit.
Chop up the carrots, onion, and celery. Add it to the empty crockpot.
Drain and rinse the beans, and add them. Add the whole cans of tomatoes, and the pasta sauce. Add the beef broth. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, and Tobasco sauce. Stir in your meat.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4. When the vegetables are tender, stir in the 1/2 cup of dry pasta.
Cover and cook for another hour on low, or until the pasta is tender. It will swell quite a bit.
Serve with a bit of parmesan cheese if you have it.
And with that, a new soup season begins. Another year, another new beginning, another autumn that brings a mixture of the traditional and the new.
A season to taste.
UPDATED 11:32 p.m.: This soup? Was freakin' amazing! So amazing that Boo had a full bowl and part of a second helping, and Betty - who has always refused to eat soup before - ate nearly half of hers. Maybe it was the parmesan cheese, I don't know. What I do know is that this goes into the regular rotation. I served this with Italian bread and mozzarella sticks. Our Philadelphia Eagles may not be ready for some football, judging by the outcome of today's game, but this soup is a true winner.
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