Margaret Button: Serving up winter woes with hot soup
An old saying — and the Black-Eyed Peas — admonish, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." Every year, at Christmas time, millions of people beg Mother Nature, in song no less, to "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow." And now, it has.
The woman who was running around Christmas Eve day and Christmas Day in flip-flops — that would be me — is now dressed in seven layers of clothes, topped with a knitted shawl, shivering in her cubicle at work.
Within the first 24 hours of the recent snowfall, I remembered what I hate most about winter:
• Shoveling snow. Once I had retrieved the shovel from the shed (located not so conveniently on the far side of the snow-covered backyard) and unearthed the back stairs, I'd had enough of the white stuff. The next day, every muscle in my body ached.
• Wet mittens. The once-warm, toasty mittens ice up, your body heat melts the ice and the mittens stick to the metal shovel handle.
• Brushing the snow off the car and scraping the ice off the windows. No matter how I do it, I end up looking like the Abominable Snowman, with most of it off the car, but now on me.
• The traffic-light snow avalanche. Not an issue if you have a small car, but my present and past have been filled with pick-up trucks and SUVs. As a result, I can't reach to brush off all the snow on the roof — and it inevitably slides onto the front windshield when I stop at a traffic light. There's no rhyme or reason for which traffic light; it could be the first one I come to or one 20 miles later.
• Berkshire sleigh rides. The on-land version of the 19th-century Nantucket sleigh ride, in which a whaling vessel was dragged behind a harpooned whale. In the Berkshire version, you hit the car brakes — and keep going, sliding on ice. Which leads me to ...
• The sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize you're on the above-mentioned sleigh ride and about to hit another car, sign, snowbank or guardrail.
This weekend, since I refused to leave my warm house, I made a batch of comforting Lasagna Soup. All the great flavor, but without the hassle of making lasagna!
8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15 -ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus thinly sliced leaves for topping
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling, optional)
1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Ricotta cheese, for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain; drizzle with olive oil and toss.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and 1 cup water; cover and bring to a simmer. Uncover and cook until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the noodles, basil, Parmesan and heavy cream; simmer 2 more minutes.
Top with ricotta and sliced basil.
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