This soup is a metaphor for how I’m feeling about this holiday season. (As always, to skip this meditation on holiday blues and just get to the damned soup already, scroll to the next photo!)
As you can see, the dry pasta is vibrant pink and white adorableness. But when cooked, it loses some color and is a rather bleh peach and cream. It still tastes good, but doesn’t live up to the promise of the shiny and bright dry version. I feel that way about the holidays: The idea is one thing, but the experience is another.
I have the holiday blues. They came early this year, which is probably because Thanksgiving was so early and now we’re officially in the holiday season even though Halloween was 10 seconds ago and it’s all going too fast and increasing my seasonal ennui.
But if I’m honest, I always have the sneaking suspicion that everyone else is more engaged in life and more present in their lives and more, I don’t know, successful at life than I am. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Unsurprisingly, I have to take social media with a HUGE grain of salt and constantly remind myself that these idealized versions of life aren’t the whole picture. So, I guess this is my friendly reminder to all of YOU that ‘tis the season of matching jammies and perfect cookies, which are fun and pretty and inspiring, but also staged and only a sliver of someone’s day.
Anyway, make this soup! Seriously though, one way I try to combat the holiday blues is to be mindful about what I’m eating. This soup is more nutritious if you use a whole grain or grain-free pasta (or skip it entirely). However, M’s soup consumption increases dramatically if there’s a fun shape in there.
And if you can, make the broth yourself. It’s light years better than the stuff in paper cartons from the store. And you can make a lot at a time and freeze it for later. And the chicken can be frozen for later meals too!
White bean and pasta soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried rosemary, minced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups herbed chicken stock (recipe below)
1½ cups dried pasta, cooked in separate water
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Heat the olive oil over a medium low flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the white beans and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
While the soup simmers, cook the pasta separately. When the pasta is done, add it to the slightly cooled soup.
Top with cheese before serving.
Yield: 7-8 cups soup, about 4 big bowls
Herbed chicken stock
1 chicken, cut into pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks), skin and bones included
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large carrot
1 stalks celery
2 sticks rosemary
8-10 sticks thyme
10-12 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
10-14 cups water, enough to cover the ingredients
1 Tbsp salt
Add all of the ingredients to a large stockpot and stir to distribute the salt. Cover with water.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 1½ hours. If a lot of the water evaporates, add more to maintain the original level of water.
Let cool. Strain the broth with a fine mesh sieve. Remove the bones and skin of the chicken, but save the meat in a separate container for other meals.
Yield: About 12 cups of stock; one entire chicken, dark and light meat