My apologies for not posting last week. Life is full of ups and downs and this week I experienced one of the downs that we all, as animal lovers, never want to experience. October 29th, 2013 marked the end of an era in my life with the passing of my 20 year old cat, Dixie. I was 11 years old when my neighbors, The Schiavi’s, told us that their cat, Dutch, was giving birth to kittens, and my first cat was the father! (As a side note, my first cat passed away the morning the kittens were born, he was an outdoor cat, and we’ll leave it at that!) Dutch gave birth to four kittens (2 girls and 2 boys) that morning; April 15, 1993, to be exact. Alex and I, classmates, were allowed to stay home from school and watch the miracle of life occur in his closet, in a cardboard box. My family decided we would take the two girls – Dixie and Daisy. And they were forever indoor cats.
Dixie was the last one standing of the litter these last few years. She was an anchor in my life. On my bed every night for the last 20 years. Purring next to my ear, pawing and kneading at my shoulder. And in the last couple years, always in the kitchen, laying down in front of the oven, watching me cook. Animals are such special beings, they provide unconditional love and leave paw prints on your heart.
In honor of Dixie, I decided that I would make something that warms the heart and soul. As seasons change and leaves turn (in some areas of the country), soup becomes a meal of choice. A hearty bowl of soup always warms you up on a chilly night (or in a chilly office that hasn’t yet turned off the air conditioning!) I loooove soup – especially those that have little hunks of potato in them. Today’s soup does not have potato, but it would’ve been a great add! Look for a soup in the future with hunks of potato, for sure. ; )
The negative about buying soup in the supermarket, even, yes, Whole Foods, is that the amount of sodium per serving is enough to put your body into bloaty shock! And those that are “low sodium”, truly taste, well, nasty. I say that nothing beats homemade soup with fresh ingredients and less sodium!
My most favorite soup is Minestrone. So I set out to make This Chick’s version chock full of fresh vegetables and flavor, while low in sodium and preservatives ; ) This recipe makes 6 quarts of soup. I laughed after I was finished throwing all the ingredients together and it came close to filling my 8 quart dutch oven. But no problem on the leftovers, it’s good for a few days worth of meals, plus freeze a good amount of it for defrosting and reheating later on in the season. This is already vegan and for the carnivores, I recommend adding some pancetta.
Hope you take this recipe for a spin and let me know what you think. If you have a furry 4-legged family member, give him or her a little extra snuggle tonight.
xo, This Chick
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, sliced thinly (maybe cut the larger slices towards the bottom in half or quarters)
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 zucchini, halved (or quartered) and sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh green beans, chopped about an inch long
- 2 ears fresh corn
- 2 13-oz. boxes of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 13-oz. boxes of Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes (do NOT drain)
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1.5 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 32 oz. veggie stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup small pasta (ditalini or shells work well)
- salt/pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven on medium high heat. Add the onions, carrot and celery and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent.
- Add the zucchini and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, just until you can smell the usual garlic aroma ; )
- Add the ingredients green beans through thyme and stir to combine. Then add the stock and water, stir well and simmer covered on low for 25 minutes.
- Stir in the pasta and cook another 10 minutes.
- *Note: You can always add more water or stock if the pasta grows to be bigger than you expected and you need more soup consistency. I may or may not have been guilty of massive pasta in my dutch oven. ; )