Soup is Good for the Soul - Nancy Branberg
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Soup is Good for the Soul


So this week, I have had the first verse of the poem, Chicken Soup with Rice stuck in my head.  When son number one was in kindergarten, he and his class had to memorize it.  It goes like this:

In January it's so nice
While slipping on the sliding ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sipping once, sipping twice
Sipping chicken soup with rice

(Little did I know until I wanted to make sure that I had the words correct for the second verse did I learn that it was written by Carole King and Maurice Sendak for Really Rosie.)

Anyway, the poem was stuck in my head and then we had that quick snow that closed the government offices and schools down early Tuesday and I started thinking how good chicken soup would be.  But we had no chicken in the house.  So I took stock of what was in the pantry and the fridge and pulled out my favorite cookbooks and pulled up my favorite sites to make and decided to make pasta and fagioli soup (Italian for pasta and beans) that is described as hearty, healthy and tasty—perfect for what I was looking for to warm us up and be able to eat for several lunches the rest of the week!
Here is my recipe that I adapted from Bon Appetite based on what I had available.

Pasta and Fagioli Soup Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of sea salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced  (the recipe called for 4 cloves)
  • 1 can (14.8 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (the recipe called for vegetable broth but the pantry had none)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • ½ tsp of red pepper flakes, omit or increase as you like
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, drained (chick peas or Great Northern bean will work)
  • ½ cup of small shell pasta (I used Barilla gluten-free and the recipe calls for a cup of pasta
  • 2 cups of chopped kale (you can use chard or collard greens)
  • ¼ cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs of fresh lemon juice


In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs of olive oil until shimmering.  Add the chopped onion carrot, celery and ½ tsp of salt with about 10 twists of fresh pepper. Cook, stirring often until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 10 min.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until the tomatoes oare bubbling all over. Add the broth, water, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, reducing the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.

Use a heat-safe measuring cup to transfer about 1 ½ cups of soup (avoid the bay leaves) to a blender. Add ¾ cup of the drained bean. Securely fasten the lid and blend until smooth, being careful to avoid hot steam escaping from the lid.  Pour the blended mixture back into the soup.

Add the remaining beans, pasta, kale and parsley to the simmering soup. Continue cooking, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot, for about 20 minutes, or until the pasta and greens are tender.

Remove the pot from the heat, then remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining 1 Tbs of olive oil and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Taste and adjust your seasoning.  I added more pepper.
Serve immediately.  I grated fresh parmesan cheese on top.
And we enjoyed it with cornbread in front of the fire in our living room.
It was fairly quick and a nice midweek break. 

Nancy Branberg

Nancy Branberg

Nancy has long had a passion for helping people - especially those who felt they were powerless over their pain. After becoming a mom and having her own “child-birth” traumas to deal with, Nancy became interested in learning about the pelvis - not just the musculo-skeletal system, but the reproductive and digestive system as well. Every day she is amazed by the complexity and the inter-relatedness of all the systems. Nancy is Fall Church’s leading physical therapist who is able to help you overcome these problems without medication or surgery. Nancy Branberg Physical Therapy, LLC empowers women to take control of their pelvic issues so that their energy and attention can shift towards doing all of the things they love to do.
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