The better the food, the better the chance for a great conversation. You feel good when you eat something delicious. When you eat delicious food, a chemical reaction occurs. The body releases "happy hormones" like dopamine and endorphins. This makes you happy, relaxed, and comfortable. It doesn't have to be complicated to make great food.
Make a pot of soup once or twice a month and freeze it. Then, on a busy weeknight, all you have to do is warm the dish and add another easy dish, and dinner is ready.
Serve a bowl of soup with a large Caesar salad with homemade dressing for a light option. Or a pan-seared steak or fish en papillote-baked fish French style- for a family meal. All three are delicious and quick to prepare. Add some fresh fruit of the season like apple slices or mandarins, and a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert. You will have an amazing meal ready in no time.
Pasta e Fagioli is a delicious Italian soup that is amazingly simple to make.
Pasta e Fagioli is one of the easiest soups to make, and the result is impressive. With a tomato base, this soup is seasoned with onion, celery, oregano, and crushed red pepper for a subtle kick. Cannellini beans and pasta make this soup a hearty vegetarian main dish or first course. If you have fussy eaters, serve them the nutritious broth and noodles and avoid the beans and celery. Even if the picky eater doesn’t eat the celery or beans, the vitamins are imbibed in the soup, so you win in the end.
2 15-ounce cans of cannellini or great northern beans
1cup of dried small pasta shells
1. Chop the onions and celery. Put them in a soup pot.
2. Add the tomato juice (save the container), oregano, and pepper flakes.
3. If using the ham base, add the ham base plus water. To add the water, fill the tomato juice container completely with water one time, and add that amount of water to the pot. Or add the chicken broth.
4. Simmer for about an hour until the onions and celery are softened.
5. Add the beans and dried pasta and cook until the noodles are done.
Ham base is sold in the grocery section, where you find bullion. It is concentrated, so we need to add water to the soup. Ham base gives this soup the best flavor, but chicken or even vegetable stock can be substituted.
You can freeze this soup, but I do not recommend adding the pasta before freezing. They will likely be mushy when you reheat them. Instead, freeze the soup without noodles and when you are ready to use it, reheat the soup and add cooked noodles. Cook the noodles while the soup is reheating. I always cook noodles al dente, which is about 1 ½ - 2 minutes less than it says on the package. Noodles cooked al dente are firmer, so they won't get mushy while they are cooking in the soup. They are also easier to digest. So cooking noodle al dente is a good practice.
Good food creates a good mood, and how you serve it creates the time to let the conversation unfold. Read last week’s blog about how to spark the best conversation ever.
Next week’s blog is about how to serve dinner to spark a great conversation, and help you make easy meals to please everyone. One small change to how you serve can help you do both. Click here and I’ll let you know when it is posted so you don’t miss this delicious idea. Ciao for now.
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