Last year, I found a new favorite Christmas gift to give. I cooked up a couple batches of my favorite homemade soup and collected pretty soup pots throughout the month. I filled them with soup and brought that with a crusty loaf of french bread to a few chosen friends. The gift was accompanied with a simple note and thawing instructions.
The soup could be frozen and pulled out whenever a quick dinner in December is needed. I’ve never had such a happy response to a gift. Friends were thrilled to have a homemade dinner on hand, and a pretty pot to keep made the gift a special one to keep.
This year I am expanding the gift to give to teachers, neighbors, and anyone who might be blessed by an easy dinner during the craziest month of the year. Wrapping up the crusty bread with ribbons gives it an extra special touch. I made a few batches of my favorite soup – Pasta E Fagioli this weekend with Contadina tomatoes. It’s a soup I’ve been making for the last 10 years and our family’s favorite way to warm up.
In the event you want to give the gift of dinner this year or make the soup for yourself, here is my recipe for Pasta E Fagioli with Sausage (leave out the sausage for vegetarian friends).
You’ll need: 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium red onion – diced, 2 med carrots – diced, 1 rib of celery – diced, 1 large garlic clove – peeled & diced, 1 14oz can diced (or petite diced) Contadina tomatoes with the juice, 4 cups chicken broth, 1/4 lb hot Italian sausage – cooked & crumbled, 1 cup canned cannelloni (white kidney) beans – rinsed, 1 cup macaroni or ditalini pasta.
Add salt & fresh ground pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves – minced (or 1 teaspoon dried), 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves – minced (or 1 teaspoon dried), 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination of the cheeses.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan or stockpot and add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Stir and cook over medium heat until soft, approx 5-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, and sausage. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 min to 1 hour. Cook pasta separately and add to the soup at the end, or add to individual bowls if there will be leftovers (pasta gets soggy in the fridge). Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add the basil and parsley. Serve with a sprinkling of cheese.
Batch out the soup, start a collection of pretty pots and enjoy the accolades that come with being a thoughtful gift giver this year.
Every mealtime masterpiece starts with Contadina and ends with a clean plate. While many people enjoy posting photos of their food before they eat, we believe that a clean plate afterwards is the true testament to a delicious meal. And that meal is a labor of love, so share your gratitude with a clean plate celebration on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Contadina
Compensation was provided for this post by Contadina. The opinions and Christmas gift idea is mine and is not indicative of the opinions or positions of Contadina. Thanks so much for supporting our holiday partners.