soup, summer, and craziness

I can become emotional and disorganized in the face of making big decisions.  Along with these attractive traits, once in awhile I’ll thrown in being ornery, more easily frustrated and irritable.  If there is a full moon, watch out.  I probably don’t have to tell you it is all on the north side of slightly unbecoming.  Not pretty, I know.

I have been kicking around the idea of returning to graduate school;  hence, the conflicting thoughts in my mind.

Two or more opposing thoughts in the mind create conflict.  I find it best to have at least four to six.  Cognitive dissonance and I are old friends.  We are on a first name basis.

I do suppose that I could approach the process in a more logical manner. Step 1.  Sit for GREs.  Step 2. Wait for score.  Step 3. Determine if score will get me into a graduate school.  Step 4.  I won’t bore you anymore.  You get the picture.  But, oh no, I don’t handle it the logical way.  At least not at first.  I have to begin the process by imagining things like leaving my family to attend school; or, once again, paying back a mountain of debt acquired during one’s education.  I handle it the emotional way.

To me, summer soup (my take on minestrone soup) is a far cry from the messiness of opposing thoughts and decisions.  It is a no muss, no fuss, straightforward dish.  I enjoy making this soup in the summer months because it is good served at room temperature.  The flavors seem to meld and heighten a bit more when the soup is allowed to rest after cooking.

Full of vegetables and beans, a healthier dish is hard to find.   It is also a forgiving soup. Use what you have in your vegetable drawer.  Zucchini instead of carrots ?  Great. Cabbage instead of spinach ?  All the better. Leftover rice in the frig?  Put it in your soup and leave out the ditalini.

Summer Soup

1/2   large sweet onion, diced

2   stalks celery, rinsed and diced

4   carrots, rinsed and diced

8 oz.  button mushrooms, rinsed or wiped, thinly sliced

1  T.  oregano

1/2 T. basil

15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, set aside

15 oz can corn, drained and rinsed, set aside

4 c. (more, if needed, for desired consistency) low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 c. (scant) ditalini pasta, uncooked

6 – 9 oz. bag fresh spinach, rinsed, set aside

extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper and salt

1.  In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat 2 T. or so of olive oil over medium heat.

2.  Once the oil is fragrant, add the diced onion, carrot and celery.  Add a pinch of salt.  Sweat vegetables until they have softened and begin to turn slightly translucent.  About 10 minutes.

3.  Add mushrooms and pinch of salt.  Sweat mushrooms until they begin to give up their moisture and develop a slight golden brown color.  About 5 minutes.

4.  Add seasonings including freshly ground black pepper to taste.   Stir to incorporate.

5.  Add kidney beans, corn, 3 c. of the broth and ditalini.  Simmer 10 minutes until pasta is al dente.  Do not overcook.

6.  Add remaining stock and spinach.  Stir to incorporate.  Put lid on pot and remove from heat allowing the heat from the dish to cook and wilt the spinach.  Check after 5 – 10 minutes.  Once spinach is wilted, remove lid, serve immediately or at room temperature with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil dressing each bowl.