There are three things that I become passionate about in autumn: (1) cool evenings that allow me to drift off to sleep while still listening to the nightly insect orchestral cacophony, (2) walks shared with the dog on crisp clear mornings when the leaves begin to turn and helicopter down to the street, and (3) soup.
I felt the sore throat coming while I worked in the office last Saturday morning. Respiratory illness started making its rounds in the community early this year; children and adolescents began to file into the office with complaints of cough, congestion and sore throat. All it takes is one uncooperative youngster to sneeze or cough in your face during an exam to effectively inoculate you with the latest virus. I can almost always peg the start of an illness—the onset is 48 hours from the time of droplet contact.
By Sunday the sore throat had developed into nasal congestion and post nasal drip; the cough came on Monday morning. I went to work anyway, figuring it was better that I occupy my time doing something constructive rather than sit at home and feel downright miserable. As it was I drove to the office and felt miserable there for the entire day.
That evening I came home to a pot of homemade soup steaming on the stove. I lifted the lid and inhaled the magnificent odors of chicken broth, fresh parsley, celery, carrots and noodles as they bubbled below my nose. I sat down at the table and consumed two large bowlfuls of the mixture, then made myself a cup of hot tea with honey. There’s nothing like a bowl of homemade soup to soothe body and soul in sickness and in health.
Recently, a good friend gave my wife the recipe for a hearty minestrone soup. I’ve posted it below for those of you who, like me, are soup lovers at heart.
½ or less cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
½ lb fresh or frozen green beans, cut into 1” pieces
In a large pot over medium heat and in hot oil, cook above ingredients until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat if needed.
6 cups water
½ head small cabbage
½ 10-oz bag fresh spinach, coarsely shredded (may use frozen, too)
1 16-oz can diced tomatoes with their liquid (optional)
2 medium zucchini, diced
6 beef flavor bouillon cubes
1 tsp salt (optional)
Bring to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover; simmer 40 minutes or until all vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
1 16-oz can chick peas, drained
1 16-oz can red kidney beans, drained
Cook 15 minutes longer.
Serve with parmesan cheese, salad and fresh bread. If you like meat, cook some hamburger or turkey breakfast sausage and add to soup before serving.
Makes about 8 servings. Total preparation time is about 2 hours. This soup tastes very good the day after it is made, so it can be made ahead.