Ham and split pea soup

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In case you missed the numerous other times I have mentioned it on this blog….. I LOVE SOUP. It is probably one of the only things that makes winter even barely tolerable to me. I am NOT made for the cold. Alabama is about as mild a winter as you will get in North America, and yet every time the temperature dips below 4o degrees, I find myself longing to be back to the equator. Anyway… soup! AAhhhhh….. soup is my consolation in all of this. I could have soup every day of the week, but my sweet husband would be very, very unimpressed. Over our 8 years of marriage, many a compromise have been made. One of them is in regard to soup. Soup is only acceptable at our house as a main meal if it has a meat of some sort thrown in, and most importantly, is a thick and chunky soup (sorry, chicken noodle soup, you have been eliminated).

Thankfully, this is one soup that meets everyone’s approval at my house. It can be made without the ham bone, but if you happen to have a bone chilling in the fridge from the Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas meal, this is the perfect use for it. I made this a couple weeks ago from the ham left over from Thanksgiving, and left overs never tasted so yummy. It was a good change from the overindulgent feast. You could also buy a ham hock and throw it in. The bone adds depth to the flavor of the soup. Serve with some warm toasted bread, and it is sheer bliss. You could also serve this with some steamed rice, or a side salad. Whatever you do… make it soon. You will be glad you did.

Recipe yields about 8 cups.
Ingredients:
1 pound green split peas
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
Ham bone (optional, but adds great flavor)
2 cups diced ham
7 cups broth (I used chicken) *** you could also use 7 cups water and crumbled bouillon cubes***
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less to your preference)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste (You may not need any, depending on the sodium content in your ham and broth)

2 Tablespoon fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions:
1.Place the peas on a rimmed tray or baking sheet, and sort through, discarding any shriveled or broken peas, debris or stones. Rinse with cold water.

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2. In a stock pot, put in the split peas and enough water to cover the peas, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. In the same pot, heat the oil. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until veggies start to soften. Add garlic, and cook for a minute. Add the peas, ham, broth, black and red pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Check for salt and add more if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about an hour. After an hour, check if the peas are done. They should be soft. If not, simmer for another 15 minutes.

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4. Once the soup is done, remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the ham bone, and shred off any left over meat and return to pot. Discard bone. Add in the fresh parsley (it really brightens up the flavor) and enjoy!

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Devotion For The Day:

1st Peter 5:5-8

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift your up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Be self controlled and alert. The enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.

Orange Cranberry Sauce

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Happy Thanksgiving! As one who didn’t grow up in the States celebrating thanksgiving, it is now one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy it so much more now that I have kids, and we are trying to build our family traditions and identity. It has been a ton of fun for me as I am learning how to make traditional thanksgiving meals from scratch, and putting my own little spin on a few of the dishes. One of the easiest places to start has been the cranberry sauce. We did the canned sauce for a couple years, and poor us…. we didn’t know any better 🙂 Last year, I ventured out and made the sauce at home, and it was so easy and delicious that I can never present a can to the clan again.

The best part is you can easily make it a day ahead,  let it cool down and then refrigerate. That makes one less thing to worry about on turkey day! Happy thanksgiving from my family to yours. May we remember to take time to reflect on the blessings that God has bestowed on us!

Ingredients:
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
Zest of one orange
1 cup fresh orange juice (about 6 oranges)
1 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
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1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and stirring occasionally, cook until the skin on the cranberries starts to pop. This takes about 8-10 minutes.

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2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.
The sauce can be made a day or two in advance.
Enjoy!

Devotion For The Day:

As we count our blessings during this thanksgiving season, here are a few verses to reflect on.

Psalms 106: 1 Praise the Lord! Thank the Lord because he is good. His love endures forever.
Isaiah 12:4  At this time you will say “praise the Lord and worship him. Tell everyone what he has done and how great he is.

Roasted Salsa Verde

DSC_0039My family loves salsa, and we keep tons of it in the pantry at all times. I usually go for the store bought jars for onvenience, but sometimes I just want the real deal. I was having one of those days recently, when I was craving a homemade salsa. My plan was to make chicken enchiladas, and my salsa of choice when it comes to enchiladas is almost always salsa verde which simply means green salsa. I had almost everything on hand, except for tomatillos and jalapenos, so a quick trip to the store later, I was armed and ready to go.

If you have never tried salsa verde before, you are totally missing out. It is such a great breakaway from the usual red salsa, and goes great with chicken. Of course you could just dip your tortilla chips too 🙂 I won’t judge. Tomatillos look a lot like green tomatoes once you take the peel off, but they are actually not from the same family. They are pretty easy to find now at almost every grocery store in the US, even Walmart carries them now.  The best way to select the ones with the best flavor is to look for those that have smooth, firm skin(underneath the peel), and to pick smaller ones. The big ones are more bland in flavor. You could boil them, but I find that I prefer roasting them for depth of flavor. To prepare them for roasting, just take the peel off, and wash them. The peel makes the tomatillos feel waxy, but a good wash will remedy this.

DSC_0020My family loves spicy food, but the 3 jalapeno turned out to be just a little too spicy for one of my kids (my two year old handled it just fine, but the older one ended up mixing some sour cream in with her salsa to tone it down). That being said, please adjust the jalapeno to suit your taste. I took the seeds and ribs off two of the jalapenos, and left the seeds in one. I might just take all the seeds out next time. Removing the seeds and the ribs of the peppers makes them less spicy. You could even omit the peppers all together for a mild but still flavorful sauce.

The recipe yielded about 3  cups of salsa(which is a lot!), which we ate with chips and then used for chicken enchiladas on day 2. The sauce should keep well in the fridge for a few days, and can also be canned for longer storage. You can easily half this recipe.

Ingredients:
2 pounds tomatillos, cleaned and halved
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
3 jalapenos, quartered (and seeded, if you prefer)
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Directions:

1. Adjust your rack in the oven 3/4 way to the top, and turn your oven on broil. Arrange your tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic on a cookie sheet.

DSC_00242. Put the in the oven and broil for about 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to get a little charred, but not burned. Pull the pan out and set aside to cool down until it is cool enough to handle.

DSC_00253. Peel the garlic and put in a blender with the other vegetables. Add in the lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt. Pulse the blender until you achieve your desired consistency. I like a slightly chunky salsa.

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Enjoy!

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Devotion For The Day:

For the last week, I have been studying the book of Nehemiah. I would highly recommend reading it. It’s not terribly long (13 chapters), but has such an incredible story. The jist of the story is that the Israelites having rebelled against God, in judgement were taken captive by the Babylonians, and their glorious city of Jerusalem was reduced to ruins. After many decades had passed, many of the exiles had returned to Jerusalem, but it was still in ruins, and they were very vulnerable. At this time, Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, and was devastated when he heard of the state of the city. After much prayer, he felt compelled to lead the efforts to rebuild the city. He prayed every step of the way, and his godly leadership led the people of Israel to rebuild the city in record time, as well as to recommit themselves to God.

The verses that I’m sharing today are from Nehemiah 9. At this point, the city is rebuilt, and Nehemiah is their new governor. He leads the people into a time of fasting and praying as they confess their past sin and rebellion, and also recommit themselves to following God’s laws that they had turned away from. As a people, in chapter 9 they are reflecting on their past, and God’s faithfulness and provision for them, but also their unfaithfulness and rebellion to Him. I totally loved verse 19. They paint such a perfect picture of who God is, even in the face of who we are… fallen and unfaithful. His love and compassion never fails.

Nehemiah 9:19-21. “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet become swollen”.

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

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It’s official. My baby is growing up. My oldest daughter turned 8 this weekend, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around that idea. As a Mommy, I have mixed feelings. I miss my little cuddle bunny that called vegetables “begebles”, but I am also treasuring the conversations we are having now, as she tries to sort through her little world. I’m having to learn to give her rope some more slack, as far as responsibilities she can work her way into. One of my greatest struggles is letting go of the reigns in the kitchen. It’s “my” safe zone, and having someone else tinkering in there makes my heart beat faster. I want things done a certain way, and egg shells in my bowl makes my blood pressure rise. I’m learning to grit my teeth, and try to enjoy the process of baking and cooking with her, and it’s getting better every time. She loves being a part of the process, and I love to see the excitement as she learns new things. A couple weekends ago, we made cupcakes!
I’m excited to share my favorite cupcake recipe. I stock up on canned pumpkin through out the year and wait excitedly for the announcement that it is fall, so that I can make these. I have made them twice now in the last few weeks, and each time, I have had to share them with friends quick, because they do not last more than a day or two at my house, which is plain dangerous. On that day we  were having company over and my friend had insisted (it was more like threatened) that I make these cupcakes for dessert. I got to bake them with the girls, and actually let my ‘little lady” do most of the measuring and stirring. She had a blast! The end result was two girls, happily licking bowls and spatulas of batter, watching the oven as the cakes baked. It made all the teeth gritting and elevated heart rate totally worth it.

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These cupcakes are great by themselves, but I can never resist piping some cinnamon cream cheese frosting on them. If you don’t have access to canned pumpkin, here’s a link on how to make it at home. If you get the canned stuff, be sure to get the 100% pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie filling. There’s a significant difference. You could also substitute 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend for all the separate spices. I had posted the cream cheese recipe before. Just add a teaspoon of cinnamon to this recipe, and you have the frosting I used.

Adapted from All recipes
Makes 24 cupcakes.
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,cloves, allspice, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (you should see the mixture look noticeably lighter in color). Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to combine before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Mix in the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tins ( I use an ice cream scoop).

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3. Bake until golden, and a toothpick to the center comes out clean (22-25 minutes). Cool slightly in the pan, and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Frost the cupcakes with the prepared cinnamon cream cheese frosting linked above, or simply enjoy as is.
Enjoy!

DSC_0033Devotion For the Day:

We have been reviewing Galatians 5 that talks about the fruit of the Holy Spirit with our kids and I wanted to share it with you.

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law.

As we were talking over these qualities, my husband explained to the girls that you cannot portray this fruit without the help of the Holy Spirit, and I was thinking…. it’s so true. We all admire the attributes above, but humanly speaking, it totally goes against our nature. It becomes so hard to do the very things we wish we could, until the Holy Spirit is within us. These qualities are then an outward manifestation of the wonderful transformation happening within us!

Balsamic Pot Roast

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I’m so excited that the fall is finally here. I love the changing colors of the leaves…. I love the perfectly comfortable weather… I love that I can pull out sweaters and my pumpkin recipes (Pumpkin spice cupcakes are my favorite)…. and I love that I can now justify making soups and casseroles. It just seems wrong to do this in the summer. Pot roast falls in the category of warm and comforting food in my book, and it will be making frequent appearances at my house in the coming months. I love braised meats, and if you missed the braised chicken cacciatore recipe I posted last, check it out. I make pot roast pretty often, but I decided to change it up this time, and I think I stumbled on a gold mine! This is MY new favorite way to make pot roast now. I had never used balsamic vinegar for pot roast before, and it make all the difference in the world.
If you have never tried pot roast before, I highly recommend it. The whole idea is to get a chunk of chuck roast and brown it in a pot, then add in liquid, and vegetables if you would like, and slow cook it for a long time, until the meat gets tender and shreds off. It is melt in your mouth good! As a personal preference, I like to load my roast up with a ton of vegetables and herbs. Carrots, potatoes and onions are most commonly used, but I changed it up and used mushrooms, parsnips, carrots, onion and celery. The beauty of the recipe is that you can change up the combination of vegetables to suite your taste, or leave them all off if you please.

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I included a picture of the parsnips for those who haven’t worked with them before. I love them! They look like a white or cream colored carrot, and taste great!( I like to roast them in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, onions and carrots as a side dish). They are available in most stores now. If you do not have fresh rosemary or thyme, feel free to substitute with dried. A couple teaspoons of each should work fine. I will say as a last note that the key to making this dish a home run is the extra step to thicken the gravy with the cornstarch and water mixture. I contemplated skipping this step, and I assure you I would have regretted it greatly. I tried the gravy before and after, and I was amazed at the difference those extra few minutes made. The only thing that would have made this meal more perfect was serving it over some garlic and herb mashed potatoes, but sensibility got the better of me, and I went with riced cauliflower instead. It was still awesome, but mashed potatoes would make it over the top yummy!
Ok.. as a last.. last note 🙂 Just so this isn’t confusing to anyone, I doubled my recipe so that I could cover a few days worth of meals. The recipe as written is for one roast. If you decide to double the recipe as I did, just double all the ingredients. I used two roasts, that added up to 5 1/2 pounds of meat.

Enough talking. Let’s get to work here. Try this as soon as humanly possible 🙂

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
Ingredients:
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
3 celery ribs, cut into large chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 cups mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Sprinkle the roast on both sides with the salt and pepper. In an oven proof pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, then remove from pan and set aside.

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2. Add the onions, carrots, celery,parsnips and mushrooms into the same pan. Cook for 5 minutes until they start to soften up. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the broth, balsamic vinegar, thyme and rosemary. Return the roast to the pot,and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, transfer to oven, and bake for 21/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender.

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4. With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef and vegetables to a container. Discard any large stems from the herbs, and skim off any excess fat that rises to the surface.
5. Transfer the pot to stove top, and simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and cold water. Add mixture into the pot with the gravy, stirring constantly. Keep stirring, bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes, until it thickens. Serve the gravy over the pot roast and the vegetables.
Enjoy!

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Devotion For The Day:

I attended a women’s conference this past weekend, and one of the resounding themes was about how much Jesus cares for each and every one of us. Like really personally! He cares about the big stuff and the little stuff that happens to us, even when we are not sure if He is aware. Yesterday I was reading from Luke 15, and it followed along with what I had taken away from the conference. The whole chapter 15 is about how much Jesus cares for the lost. It made me think of moments when I was trying to find something I had lost. My car keys, at that moment I needed to bolt out the door, my glasses, or some money that I had kept so “safely” I couldn’t remember where. It made me think of the frustration of losing that item, but even more so, the relief when I finally found it. Jesus uses 3 parables in Luke 15 to illustrate his feelings about the lost and the hurting. He used the example of a shepherd who loses one of his sheep, a woman who loses a coin, and the story of the prodigal son. In all three parables, Jesus showed how the people were willing to leave that which they still had in their possession to look for and find that which was lost, and the rejoicing that followed when they found the lost item or person.
Luke 15:3-7. Then Jesus told them this parable: “suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’. I tell you that in the same way, there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
For the 3 years of ministry that Jesus had here on earth, His focus was on finding and saving the lost, and His focus remains the same. Jesus is searching for us because we are so incredibly valuable to him. Each one of us! I visualize the rejoicing that goes on when one of His children is found, and it humbles me to know that He cares so deeply about me and you. Never for a minute believe that you are worthless, or uncared for. Jesus values you, and is seeking you out so that you can be reconciled with the Father. He paid the ultimate price to make this happen, without any guarantee of what your response to Him would be. One of my favorite verses is Romans 5:8 : But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While were still sinners. Christ died for us.

Chicken Cacciatore

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I’m back! It feels so good to be back in the game. It has been quite a summer, and I am still in recovery mode. It’s been two long months since I have blogged, and I feel like the time has just flown by. My parents visited for 6 weeks this summer, and I’m still trying to get over them being gone. If I could move Kenya next door, I totally would! I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, and it makes me want to savor every second they are here, knowing our time is limited.

I’m excited that this is my return to blogging recipe. Chicken cacciatore is one of those dishes that sounds way more fancy than it really is. Cacciatore is Italian for “hunter” and a meal cooked “alla cacciatore” means it’s cooked hunter style. It usually involves braising chicken or rabbit, and then adding tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine. I learned how to make it about 10 years ago, and for a long time I was like a one trick pony.  It was the meal I prepared whenever we had company. I guess I made it so much that it got old for me, and as soon as I found other recipes, I shelved it. My hubby reminded me the other day that I hadn’t made it in ages, so I decided to revisit my old faithful recipe. I’ll tell you what… it was like meeting up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while 🙂 It’s comfort food at it’s best. I lightened it up a little to fit  our new lifestyle where we’re more watchful of what we eat, but it did not take away from the flavor a bit! It’s loaded with veggies and flavorful sauce, and you will be so glad to serve this to your gang. My version incorporates mushrooms, which does darken the sauce color a tad, but I love the depth it adds to the sauce.

You can totally play with this recipe to suit your taste. I used skinless chicken thighs to make  the recipe lighter, but you can leave the skin on if you would like. You can also use a whole cut up chicken instead of just using thighs, Do leave the bone in the chicken though, and DO brown your meat (dusted with some flour). It makes all the difference in the flavor of the sauce. You can pick and choose your combo of veggies too. I went more traditional with the onion, mushroom, peppers and garlic. I skipped the wine and used chicken broth instead. We like things a little spicy at my house, so I added crushed red pepper. Feel free to adjust the amount, or omit all together to suite your taste. The same goes for the capers. They are totally optional. I had some in my fridge, and I love the briny, salty flavor that they add to slow cooked dishes. If you don’t have any, don’t sweat it. I served the cacciatore with whole wheat pasta, but any pasta would work just fine, or some egg noddles. Now that I think about it, rice or mashed potatoes would work here too. It would take away from the whole Italian theme, but I promise not to tell anyone if you choose to go that route 🙂

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
8 skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 Tablespoons capers (optional, but yummy)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Directions:
1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of black pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat lightly.
2. In a heavy bottomed pot (I used a cast-iron pot), heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown for about 5 minutes per side. Do this in batches to avoid crowding the pan, which keeps the chicken from browning up. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside.

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3. Add the onions, mushrooms and green pepper to the pot, and saute until the veggies start to soften up (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
4. Add the chicken broth, and let the liquid simmer and reduce (about 3-4 minutes). Add the tomatoes, oregano, capers and crushed red pepper. (If you are not using capers, check for seasoning. You may need to add more salt. Capers are salty, so I didn’ t need to add more). Bring the sauce to a simmer, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

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Serve over pasta, and sprinkle with basil.
Devotion for the day:
The last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions watching the news after this past weekend’s terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. My heart grieves for the families and friends who have lost their loved ones. My heart is sad for the city and country that I love. I’m angry at the terrorists who walked into that building and rocked our confidence and security. Through all the tragedy and grief, I’m reminded that I have to dig deep and find hope. Not a false sense of hope, but a deep hope in the ONE who never changes. Even when my world is rocked to the core, God is my rock, and my refuge.
The last night before my Mom left for Kenya a few weeks ago, she shared Psalms 62 with me. It has been the chapter that has returned to my mind multiple times over the last few days, and it is my prayer as the healing begins, and as Kenyans begin to try to make sense of the tragedy, and rebuild. Let us hope in God and God alone. He is our refuge and our strength.
Psalms 62: 5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Sausage, spinach and white bean soup

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I love soup. I just wanted to put it out there. As ridiculous as it is to be wanting soup in the summer, there is something about a nice filling bowl of soup that makes me want to have it all year round. The struggle for me is usually to find a filling soup that is also not laden in enough calories to have me running on the treadmill for a week straight. My neighbor and I are always trading recipes, and he happened to recommend to me a white bean and spinach soup that he found on pinterest. I tried it, and we loved it, but my hubby who is not a huge fan of soup commented that he might have liked it a little more if it had some meat in it. This is a spin off from the recipe I tried, and we all enjoyed it greatly. I used sweet Italian sausage since it is what I had on hand this time, but I am curious to try a spicy turkey sausage to make it even healthier next time. All in all, it made for a really good dinner. I wanted a good balance on the ingredients, so I decided to go with  3 links of sausage. I wanted just enough to add some meaty texture, but not too much to take over the lovely bean and spinach flavor. The recipe calls for 7 cups of fresh spinach added in towards the end of the cook time. No… it’s not a typo. Trust me. I was starting to doubt myself as I was adding it in, but it wilts down to almost nothing! I would almost consider increasing the amount, on days I’m wanting more of a veggie soup.

I can’t say enough good things about this soup. It was pretty easy to throw together, and would make a great week night meal. It would be just as good as a starter but is fulling enough to hold it’s own as a main meal. Just add a salad or a buttered crusty piece of bread for a stress free dinner. It also reheats very well, so make a double batch and you can have lunches for the week covered as well. I might do this next time and freeze individual portions for quick and yummy lunches.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 link sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes(optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-ounce cans cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can tomato puree
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning(or just dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken broth
7 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a stock pot over medium high heat. Crumble the sausage and brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in the onion, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions start to soften up.
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Add the beans, tomato puree, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium heat for 35-40 minutes. (You want the beans to soften up a little more, and the flavors to marry together).
Add the chopped spinach (I had small leaves and skipped the chopping part) and the Parmesan. cook uncovered for a minute or two until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper if needed. (I do this at the very end to avoid over-salting since depending on the broth and Parmesan used, the saltiness may vary).
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Devotion For The Day:
I was reading from Joshua 10, and I’m amazed at how God has a way of bringing to me exactly what I need at just the right moment. I have had a roller coaster week, and I really needed to be reminded that God is more than capable of handling even the situations that seem impossible to man. In Joshua 10, the Israelites had already entered their promised land of Canaan, and people in the neighboring regions were fearful of the Israelites after they heard of the defeat of the Canaanites. The Gibeonites who occupied the land close to the Israelites had made a treaty with Israel to ensure their survival, and this made the other nearby kings angry and they decided to attack Gibeon. When the Gibeonites learned of this, they approached the Israelites to help save them. So, Joshua and his entire army went to battle. I verse 8, the Lord said to Joshua, “do not be afraid of them, for I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you”. 
The Israelites surprised the opposing armies and defeated them in Gibeon, and the armies were thrown into great confusion. As they tried to flee, the Israelites pursued them and killed some by the sword, and as they fled, the Lord hurled large hailstones that killed even more of the army. During the battle, Joshua prayed a prayer to God asking him to make the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the Valley of Aijalon until the battle was completed. This is the part of the story that I love the most. Verse 14 says, the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down for a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since. a day that the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
I was so encouraged when I read of this encounter. It was a reminder to me that my Daddy is more than able to take care of me, and fight for me. Nothing is impossible.