First-Week-of-School Stress-Relieving Soup!

For a lot of people, the first week of September means the start of a new school year. There can be a lot of anxiety and stress that accompanies that first week—stress for students, stress for their families (especially if it’s their young children that are headed to classes), and even stress for the educators! This past week was my first week of classes too, and I feel as though I’ve personally been reacquainted with the New School Year Jitters. After a year away from classes, I’ve started a new program of study at a college that I’ve never before attended, and at a campus in which I keep getting lost. But I think I’m settling into my classes and my expected routine pretty well. I’ve got my workspace at home set up nicely for tackling homework and the big, end-of-year projects (that will be due in no time). And while I kind of feel like all the hallways on campus pretty much look the same (and fully expect to get all turned around and confused pretty regularly for the next couple of weeks), I think I’ve figured out where all my classes are and the best routes to take through campus to get to them. I’ve even worked out through Winnipeg Transit’s inconvenient-as-ever bus schedule how I can get from my end of town to campus with time to spare before each day’s first class. That isn’t to say that after that hectic first week of the new school year that I couldn’t do with some comfort and a bit of a slower pace this weekend. And I don’t know about you, but I think one of the most comforting meals a person can make is homemade soup. There’s just something about a big pot of soup simmering on the stove that tells a person, “Everything’s gonna be okay. Also there’s really good food here for you.” So I decided to throw together a big pot of soup of my own invention this weekend—one that raids the pantry and uses beans, orzo pasta, diced tomato, and spinach from the fridge. It’s even topped with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese because as we all know, just like bacon, cheese makes everything better.

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You’ll want to make a big pot of this homey, delicious soup so you can keep the leftovers for lunch later in the week!

Vegetable Soup with Orzo, Beans, and Spinach Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Yields: 6-8 servings Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced fine
  • 6 cups of organic, low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14 fluid ounce) can of Romano beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (19 fluid ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups of orzo pasta
  • ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon of dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • 4 cups of washed, fresh spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
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Ingredients prepped and assembled! Let’s make soup!

Method Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for about five minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add diced celery and carrots, and minced garlic and sauté for another three minutes. Add the vegetable stock, Romano beans, orzo pasta, thyme, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, and stir to combine all ingredients in the pot. Briefly bring the soup to a boil at high heat, stirring regularly so the orzo pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low so that the soup is at a steady simmer. Stir occasionally to keep the orzo pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. Stir in the spinach and cook for two to three minutes until it is bright green and wilted. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each portion of soup with parmigiano reggiano cheese, and serve hot with a stir so that the cheese begins to soften.

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