To me, nothing soothes falling temperature better than a nice warm bowl of soup! Here in Chicagoland we had an amazing streak of warm weather for November. I think on Election day it even got into the 70’s! But now that streak is gone, and we might even be getting some flurries tonight. So since it feels more like fall here again, I thought I’d share some soups I made recently.

All these soups are super quick to make because I used box stocks, and canned beans. I love the convenience of the stocks, and always keep quite a few in my pantry. Gone are the days of the high sodium ones! Although nothing beats a good homemade stock, in a pinch you can have a good quality meal using these, and no one would know that you didn’t simmer it for hours!

Minestrone is a soup where any vegetable of your choice would be good. I always like to start out with my ” soffritto” of garlic, onions, carrots, and celery sauteed in olive oil. Add the herbs of your choice, and then, every thing else. My ingredients here were… 1 1/2 cans of cannellini beans… 1/2 can of chickpeas, all being rinsed and drained…1 14 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes… 4 0r 5 diced zucchini… 1 diced potato… baby spinach or chard…2 boxes of chicken stock, or veggie, (each box is 1 quart)… 1 cup or more, of parmesan cheese… dried thyme and a little rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, along with a little frozen pesto I had. When everything is all cooked together, in the end I would add your cooked pasta. Here I used ditalini.

Always finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and more grated cheese, a dollop of pesto or fresh basil!

Here you can use some leftover cooked ham, pancetta, or in this case I purchased a cooked ham steak, one that was good quality and not salty. Same “soffritto” as above… dried rosemary, basil, and thyme… 1 small can of fire roasted, or diced tomatoes… 2 boxes of stock… 2 to 3 cans of beans… I used great northern white beans, but navy would be good also… As it simmers the beans thicken the soup. Garnish with grated cheese and basil.

A 12 0z. bag of frozen artichoke hearts were used here, tossed in a pot with garlic and onion…
Seasoned with, salt, pepper and a little basil… Toss in about a box and a half of stock, or a quart and a half… Simmer till tender and soft. Pour everything into your food processor and puree it all till it’s nice and smooth. You can strain it if you want, I didn’t, but I like the texture, and besides it’s quicker!
Garnish with a dollop of pesto, and a reserved artichoke heart.
Have a great weekend, and Buon Appetito!




soup bowl
There’s something so comforting about a big pot of soup simmering on the stove on a cold day or when maybe you just need a little more comfort in your life. The first time that I  posted this recipe was way back in 2007 when I started my blog. It’s now the year 2020 with my updated pictures and to tell you that I’m still making this wonderful soup.
pot of soup
This lentil soup can easily become a vegetarian version by using a vegetable broth base and eliminating the sausage, and believe me it’s just as good!
It’s hearty and filling and you really don’t need to serve anything else with it, unless you have a weakness for warm, crusty bread with butter like I do.
soup pot
This lentil soup comes together quickly because it’s made with pantry ingredients, dried lentils that cook up quite fast and staples like carrot, onion and celery.
One ingredient that I think really enhances this soup is dried, ground fennel. If you have whole fennel seeds you can grind them down into a powdery consistency with a coffee grinder, put it in a little jar and save it.
Try it, I think you’ll love it, if not you can double up on the other spices, no problem! I always like to taste as I go along anyway I’m always adjusting for salt, pepper and spices.
Lentils tend to blow up a little and they really absorb flavors so don’t be shy, I’ll give you basic guidelines but make it your own.

lentil soup

Easy, hearty with delicious Italian flavors all throughout, this soup is a classic and will never ever go out of style!
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This recipe can easily become vegetarian, by eliminating the sausage and using veggie broth
  • 1-1/2 cups dried, brown lentils, rinsed
  • ½ lb. Italian sausage, bulk, precooked so you no longer see any pink
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1- 14 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes, or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 quart broth, chicken or veggie + 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, dried oregano and dried fennel
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • grated Parmigiano or romano for garnish
  • NOTE; sometimes I add a few leaves of chopped swiss chard stirred into at the end but that is optional.
  1. In a heavy bottomed pan drizzle with olive oil and add in the carrots, celery, garlic and onion.
  2. Toss in the cooked sausage.
  3. Saute til soft then sprinkle in all the spices mixing and coating everything well.
  4. Toss in the rinsed lentils, coating them with veggie mixture.
  5. Pour in the broth and water.
  6. Add the tomatoes.
  7. Bring it to a soft boil, then let it simmer until lentils soften.
  8. Taste for seasoning, adding more if needed.
  9. If lentils thicken the soup too much for you I always adjust with a little water or more broth to loosen it all, lentils tend to blow up.
  10. Feel free to double the recipe, it's that good!
  11. Garnish your bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a sprinkling of grated cheese if you like.