Dinner, soups

Quick and Spicy Tomato soup

Lunch time at the office

We were away this past weekend visiting our friends in North Carolina and our flight home arrived just before 5 on Monday.  After eating great food all weekend and traveling we wanted something that was easy to make and also light. This recipe from our favorite Italian chef Giada fit the bill. Within a half hour we had a hot and hearty soup on the table.

As we move into the fall season we start to crave hearty comfort foods. For the reason we try to keep our pantry stocked with basic essentials.  The less trips to the store the better.  This recipe had all of the essentials and made enough to bring into work for lunch.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 26 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.


Arugula and white bean salad

One Saturday morning we found this recipe while looking to see what was going to be on the Barefoot Contessa show the next morning.  The dish name caught Hubby’s eye and he decided to give it a try, even before she demonstrated it on her show.  So the results might be a little different than hers, especially since we used canned beans and she started out with dried beans.
It was a welcome change to dinner salads this winter.  I can’t wait to try it out this summer, on a nice warm summer day when we can have dinners on the patio.    This salad was the side dish to our veal casserole, served with roasted butternut squash and my homemade chocolate pudding. 


Arugula and White Bean Salad

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa


2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup good olive oil
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and small-diced
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, small-diced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces baby arugula


Drain the beans, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the red onion and sauté over medium-low heat for 7 to 9 minutes, until wilted. Add the beans and enough water to cover them by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain the beans and onions and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and prosciutto and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until fragrant. Pour the hot oil mixture over the warm drained beans, tossing well. Allow to cool for 10 minutes only. While still warm, stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Place in a large, shallow serving bowl, surround with arugula, taste for seasonings, and serve warm or at room temperature.


Just what the Doctor ordered

Well, you know how much someone loves you when you give them your cold and they don’t get angry with you.  That’s right, my hubby and I are sharing germs, having dueling coughing fits and commiserating together on a lazy, cold but sunny Sunday.  The kids are trying to stay clear of us, however I really think these germs came from our son because he started to come down with a cold right before we left for NYC last weekend.  Our daughter, so far, has not shown any signs of it, but as I said, she has been avoiding us.  She wouldn’t shake our hands during the sign of peace or hold hands today at church, she reminds us to use our elbow when we start coughing and she is glad she can now drive the car so she can escape.  (2 trips to the frozen yogurt store, 1 trip to the drug store and back and forth to work.)  She is also very bored because we stayed home the whole weekend.  No mall, no visiting grandma, just a trip to church, the store and the bank.

So with the constant coughing, sneezing and hacking, plus lack of sleep, I have been getting up early and coming down stairs to lie on the couch.  This morning hubby came down about a half hour after I did and we ending up watching a Barefoot Contessa from yesterday morning where she made a Winter Minestrone Soup with Garlic Brushetta that looked so good.  And with colds that just won’t let up this looked so good we decided to stop by the store after church to pick up what we needed to give this a try. We worked together to make this and boy, was this just what the doctor ordered!  Delicious, filling and enough for at least two more dinners. 

Winter Minestrone Soup with Garlic Brushetta

Good olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, ½-inch-diced
1½ cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
2½ cups (½-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
1½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (see note)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
½ cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

  Hubby prepped all of the vegetables for the soup. 

Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the spinach, and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste.

Serve large shallow bowls of soup with a bruschetta on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.

NOTE: To cook the pasta, put 1 cup of pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook according to the directions on the package, drain, and set aside. You can make this soup ahead and reheat it before serving. It will need to be re-seasoned.

Garlic Bruschetta
1 baguette
Good olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle in inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each one with the cut clove of garlic.

From Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof Recipes You Can Trust, by Ina Garten.


Simple and Delicious!

I had to bring this one back!  Great homemade hummus!  This is from 2012 and one of my most requested appetizers.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

I found this recipe over a year ago and keep coming back to make it again and again.  I even made sure I had a pot of fresh Rosemary outside my kitchen door.

I wanted something simple and light for Bunco Appetizers last August and I came across two recipes for “hummus”.  One was a roasted red pepper and the other was the rosemary white bean dip.  This one came from myrecipes.com.  

When I tell people it is hummus, so many say “I really don’t like the taste of chick peas”.  Then I explain that it’s not chick peas, but Cannellini Beans and give it a try.  And…they love it.  The smell of the roasted rosemary and the oil drizzeled over the top make it extra special.  Try it with cut up vegetables, bagel bites or pita chips.  You won’t stop eating this. 




1/4 cup olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 cans (15 oz. each) white beans (I used cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed


  1.  In a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir half the olive oil and the 2 cloves garlic until fragrant, being careful not to brown garlic, about 1 minute. Pour the oil and garlic into a food processor. Wipe out the pan and set aside.
  2. Add white beans, lemon juice, and salt to the food processor and whirl until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl.
  3. Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary sprigs. Warm the rosemary in the olive oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rosemary doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
  4. Set the rosemary aside and drizzle the olive oil over the bean dip. Mince one teaspoon of the rosemary leaves and sprinkle over the dip.
  5. Do-ahead tips: Make dip up to 2 days ahead. Store dip in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring dip to room temperature before serving. Prepare the rosemary oil right before serving.