So I know I posted a couple of days ago about our awesomeness in dinner planning… Of course, practically the minute that I posted it, I deviated from it! Two nights ago, we had Italian sausage, white bean, and spinach soup (which really did use the fresh spinach we’d bought, plus leftover frozen sausage and ground turkey, and the chicken broth I’d accidentally made… EDITED TO ADD: the recipe and photos are at the bottom of this post! What a gorgeous soup!) and last night… I decided it was more important to use up leftovers than to go with the original dinner plan.
Instead of either Italian or crabcakes, we had chicken salad sandwiches. I’d made a perfectly fluffy and beautiful loaf of white bread the night before to go with the soup and we still had half of that lying around, and I’d put the boiled chicken (the “oops, I boiled the chicken when I meant to poach it, but hey I came up with chicken broth” chicken) in the fridge. We had plenty of celery too, since we bought it for the crabcakes. And last weekend, Ryan had cut up a whole sweet potato to make my sweet potato un-fries. So we had leftover sweet potato sticks too (which got turned into another batch of the yummy fries… I cannot even say how satisfying and incredible these things are… they don’t need any sauce or condiment!).
I am happy to report that the chicken, though fairly stringy and tough, shredded extremely well. And, when mixed with mayo, mustard, and lemon juice (not to mention the copious amounts of dry herbs and celery), the chicken was not nearly as dry as it was by itself. So – yay – I have a use for accidentally-boiled chicken (although I would guess that it would go well into any application that involves a good saucing – enchiladas, pasta, etc.)!
I actually think I am going to make a homemade lasagna tonight or tomorrow – I have this bizairre desire to make homemade pasta (though in truth I’ve only ever done it once without my grandma) – and probably save the crab cakes for my dad’s birthday celebration on Monday (I promised my grandma that I’d bring them to the next family gathering, and they travel well), to which I’m also bringing a DOZEN – yes, count them – huge artichokes from my eight-by-eight foot bush(es – there are actually four).
Anyway, even though the plan deviated, it’s been nice to have a decent idea of what’s going on, and to have all the ingredients for it. And, to tell you the truth, using up leftovers is another problem I’ve been having – so it all works hand-in-hand. I’m loving this whole “being economical” thing… Next week, maybe I’ll tackle the giant slab of ribs that I just had to get on sale a couple of months ago (that’s been sitting in my freezer, taking up space, ever since!), and all the fish Ryan got on special at Henry’s last month!
Italian Sausage, White Bean, and Spinach Soup
- Approx. 6 cups chicken broth (I had to add more to leftovers, as the ingredients kept sucking it up, but if you’re serving 4-6 people immediately you’ll probably only need 6 cups)
- 2 links Italian sausage, cut up (of course, I only had one link, so I used 1/4 pound of ground turkey and added 1 egg, some dried herbs, and a bit of panko because the egg made the mixture too wet… then I rolled it into meatballs; in the photographs, the darker pieces are the sausage and the lighter pieces are the meatballs)
- 1 can white beans, drained
- large handful of fresh spinach, cleaned, with stems removed (approx. 1 cup, packed)
- 1/2 cup dry orzo pasta (or any other small pasta)
- small handful fresh parsley
- parmesan cheese
- Heat chicken broth until simmering.
- Add sausage and parsley and cook 1-2 minutes
- Add pasta and cook until nearly done (mine said 6 minutes, so I waited 4)
- Add beans and spinach and cook 2-4 more minutes or until spinach is wilted and sausage and pasta are cooked through.
- Serve garnished with parmesan cheese. (Serves 4-6)
UPDATE 05/27: I had frozen the last leftovers of this soup and took one container to work today. The pasta and beans just completely exploded, so the soup was very cloudy and a bit mushy, but still tasted nice. I do have to say, though, that while the bits of sausage were chewy and tough, the little meatballs I made on the fly were super-super tender. So I’d say the meatballs are winners all the way!