What’s For Lunch?

I hear this question almost every day.  Usually after I’ve heated my soup or leftovers. Especially the soups.  Nothing warms an office like the smell of a hot, spicy soup on a cold fall day.

So what is for lunch today?  How about a tomato vegetable soup?  The key to keeping it fresh is how the pasta is cooked.  I boil it separately, draining it when it is on the firm side of al dente.  If I’m serving the soup right away, I add it the last 5 minutes and let it soak up the flavors without becoming mushy.  If it’s for lunch, I bring the pasta and soup separately and combine before I reheat.  You can use any pasta you like, but I think the mini-pastas work well – ditalini, tiny shells or tiny elbows – they hold their firmness the best.

Ditalini Pasta

Spicy Vegetable Soup

  • 12 oz pasta, cooked al dente and drained*
  • 1 lb lean ground beef or half ground beef, half ground Italian Sausage
  • 2-14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups diced carrots (I use frozen)
  • 1 cup green beans (frozen again)
  • 6 green onions, chopped (including greens)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp fennel
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

large saucepan

In saucepan, brown ground beef  (and sausage).  Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and bring to a low boil.  Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add pasta during the last 5 minutes.  Serves 4-6 easily.  Serve with garlic bread and salad.

*rinse quickly in cold water to stop the cooking process, but don’t over rinse and lose all that nice starch for the soup.