Monday, April 2, 2007

Alphabet Soup

So, even though its technically spring, at the end of last week we had a bone chilling wind. I was secretly glad because I knew exactly what I would be making for dinner...alphabet soup!! It has been years since I had it...mostly because when I would go to the grocery store, I couldn't find the little alphabet macaroni. Sure, I guess I could've bought a can of Campbells, but I wanted the real deal! I don't know what brought on all the nostlagia, but I'd been thinking about it a lot; honestly, alphabet soup is some of my earliest memories with spelling. My Granny used to make it for my brother and I , and we would always fish the letters out and stick them out on the side of the bowl and see what words we could come up with. "K"s were always really hard to find and that used to frustrate me because, of course, the first thing I wanted to spell was my name. It really bummed me out that the tradition might stop there, and my future kids would never know the joys of spelling with their soup. So I did what any girl would do. I called Granny and told her my dilema.

Granny is a little 5 ft. dynamo (who claims she's 5'1), and probably one of the people that I love best in the world. She was tickled that I wanted to make something that to her, was so basic. She couldn't believe that I: a. remembered it; and b. wanted to keep it alive. Sure enough, next time I was at my mom's, there was a package for me from Granny, with none other than the alphabet macaroni.

Turns out, that the alphabet macaroni is actually in the Mexican Foods section of the stores. I don't know if that's just a California thing or what. Who knew? Now, when Granny would make the soup, she would use any old veggies and meat that she had left over. You never knew what combo you were gonna get. My recipe for it is really more the basic version of a Pasta e Fagioli, which Joe and I really love. In fact, its in the arsenal of Food to Tempt Joe, or Food to Get Joe To Do What I Want. Powerful stuff. So here it is, in all its glory, my version of Alphabet Soup:


3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 circles of the pan with EVOO (hey I'm a Rachael Ray fan)
2 or 3 strips of bacon
1 or 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 0r 2 stems of rosemary, left whole
several sprigs of thyme (I personally go lighter rosemary and heavier on the thyme)
salt & pepper to taste
3 cans (15oz each) chicken broth
1 can (15oz) cannellini beans
1 small can of plain tomato sauce, or any leftover marinara you have on hand
2 palm-fulls of alphabet noodles



Heat EVOO over medium heat. Chop the bacon into smallish pieces and brown in the EVOO. I like to add the heartier veggies first (celery & carrots), then the onions & garlic, herbs and seasonings. I sweat them all together until the onions are translucent and soft. Next, I add the beans, and leave afew in the bottom of the can. With a fork I mash them up before I add them to the pot. The startches in them thicken the soup a little. Stir all together. Add the broth and bring to a boil. At this point you can add the tomato sauce, just enough to make the soup a nice orangey-red color. But, if you like, you could omit it all together. Once you have a nice rolling boil, add in the alphabet macaroni. Cook about 8-10 minutes.

Seriously, so good and so easy!! And the leftovers only taste better and better. Is it just me, or is bringing leftovers to work the next day becoming a thing of the past? I almost always do, and it never fails to get responses from my co-workers. Mostly, they're just curious about what it is I made, although once, I did get the snide comment "so, do you cook for your husband every night?", like its a bad thing to do. We're the same age, but obviously, you can see where she stands on marriage and cooking dinner for my guy. Oh well. I truly do enjoy cooking, which I patiently explained to her, and although I don't cook every single night, I sure try to because its healthier, and saves us money. Instead of buying Starbucks and lunch, I can just do Starbucks and still come out ahead (just kidding Joe- I never do that). :)
So try it!! Enjoy!! Because this soup is m'm, m'm good.




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