All of the wonderful snow has come and gone. While I’m sure it was treacherous getting around on the roads for those who had to get out in it, it was undeniably beautiful and peaceful, especially at night during the full moon that we had.
Our snow storm of 2016 got me thinking about how many people may not have been able to get to the grocery and cooked with a limited supply due to the weather. I’ve been doing a lot of soup lately because it’s been so cold, so I hope you don’t mind one more as a delicious example of what you can do with some staples in your pantry and fridge and a little imagination.
How many times in your life have you’ve gone to your pantry, thrown the doors open wide and stood there in a panicked state wondering what you were going to make for dinner?? It’s that same feeling of looking at a closet full of clothes and thinking, “I don’t have anything to wear!!” Yes, you do!! You get creative in your closet with putting together an outfit, do the same in your pantry!
You’re probably like me in that you always have plenty of beans and tomatoes on hand, right? Well then, you’re halfway there. Add some chicken stock (which I always keep as well) and a variety of spices that are always in the spice cabinet. Now grab some celery for crunch, throw in some tasty orzo pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you might have on hand-even-if it’s broken up spaghetti or fettucine noodles) and a little bit of jarred pesto or your own homemade from the freezer, and that will round out the cast of characters of this filling, inexpensive, super easy, and really great-tasting soup. CK and I each had a couple of servings (playing in the snow requires some calorie replenishment). This soup however is really low in fat–just a couple of tablespoons of oil for sauteing the onions, garlic, and celery. And it’s completely vegetarian if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Plus it is protein-packed with all of the variety of beans.
The one thing you’ve got to do when you’re starting from the ground up recipe speaking is taste-taste what you’re cooking, all along the way if you can. Add more or less according to what YOU like. You know your family’s taste and you certainly know what you like–go with that. More garlic or less, more heat or less, more basil or not.
So don’t panic-your pantry’s probably got you covered! Open up your cupboard and see what inspires you–there are a lot of great meals waiting for you to bring them to life.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 or 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I use Red Gold)
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 or 3 tablespoons pesto (handmade or store bought)
- 1 can dark kidney beans, drained
- 1 can Great Northern beans, drained
- 1 can pinto beans, drained
- 3/4 cup dried orzo pasta
- 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (from a wedge or block of cheese)
- In a large stockpot, heat up oil and saute onions and celery over medium-high until crisp tender
- Add in garlic and saute for 2 minutes or so, until garlic releases its fragrance.
- Pour in tomatoes and chicken (or vegetable) stock and add in bay leaves, remaining spices, salt & pepper, and pesto.
- Turn the heat to medium and add in kidney, Great Northern, and pinto beans. Stir gently to combine.
- Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add in orzo, stir, and simmer 5-8 minutes longer or until orzo is tender.
- Pour in garbanzo beans and heat through.
- Serve each bowl with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Add salt to each serving to taste.
- The fresh Parmesan cheese is essential! In addition to the flavor, it also adds the needed extra salt to the soup. If you skip the cheese, do add some extra salt.