Time: 30 minutes (it is a Rachel Ray recipe, after all)
Serves: 4-6 (depending on size of serving)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Italian sausage links, cooked and chopped into small pieces (because I didn't have the prosciutto or pancetta that RR called for. I thought about substituting bacon but I didn't have that either.)
1/2 c. minced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 dry bay leaf or 1 tsp. crushed bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
6 c. chicken broth
2 (15-oz) cans cannellini (white) beans
8 oz. bowtie pasta
1 c. fresh or frozen green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1/2 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Throw in the chopped sausage, onion, and garlic (at this point, if you haven't yet cooked the sausage, hold off on the onion and garlic, cook the sausage, drain the fat, chop the sausage up, then throw in the onion and garlic). Add bay leaf, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until onion gets translucent. Add chicken broth and beans. Stir, and bring to a boil. When boiling, add pasta and green beans to the pot and continue boiling for 7-9 minutes or until pasta is just done, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chopped spinach and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat, stir in 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, and cover.
(Cook's note: I know Rachel Ray is famous for 30 minute meals, and this one was done, start to finish, in 29 minutes. I may have had a little head start because my sausage was already cooked, my onions were already minced, and I used a bag of frozen green beans, but other than that I was impressed with the 30 minute delivery. Kudos, RR)
In my mind, the time for soup is almost over. Fall and winter deserve soup, spring and summer deserve sandwiches. We may get another cold snap or two, but we are headed towards spring and summer so I must file away my soups until October. I may hang onto this one though, since it uses greens in the soup. We're going to plant our spinach this weekend (a kind neighbor is turning up our garden for us). You know what this means, right? Garden-fresh food out the wazoo and the need for recipes that use early crops in a variety of ways. One can only eat so many salads, right?
This little poem has been on my mind for a few days. I think the brilliant yellow forsythia bush in the backyard, highlighted by the backdrop of green green grass and blue sky, brings it to mind. It's from Song of Solomon, chapter 2, verses 11-12:
For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of the birds is come;
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.