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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tomato Florentine Soup

When cooking and a recipe has "Florentine" in its name there is your clue that spinach is an ingredient. Being spinach lovers, it was great that mama and I thought about this soup last night. Mama felt bad with a cold and hasn’t have an appetite at all for several days, and our spying this soup looking through the "Missouri to Maui" cookbook last night was a big "a-ha" moment for both of us. The recipe dates from my finding it in a low-fat cookbook I was using at the dorm 15 years ago. I fell totally in love with its rich tomato heartiness and made it often for myself then when visiting the "pal’s" in Florida on summer breaks from school. Everybody loves this soup: it’s a great dish whatever the season, guaranteed to piqué your appetite.

Not a long prep or much cooking time really with this one; you’ll be sitting down to eat in less than an hour. Many of the ingredients are already in your pantry and if you have a bag of fresh spinach, you won’t even have to get dressed and head to the grocery store (added bonus!). You must have the spinach, however, for the leafy green flavor here and to Florentine the dish. The pasta is a nice surprise in this soup and ensures that there is something for everyone really: tomato soup lovers, pasta people, and spinach fans. If, like me, you love all three things, you definitely have a win-win-win here! I baked Skillet Cornbread to enjoy with this tonight though crackers work too; whatever you choose on the side, the soup results will have you thinking of a good bowl of minestrone minus any beans.

The soup base comes from canned crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, chicken broth, and chopped onion and it hits the right note for allowing the pasta and the spinach to star here. Do chop the onions very small; you want them for flavor, not for showing off. There is no need to cook this too long; the broth is thin and once the pasta cooks, you can add the spinach, and turn it off. I enjoy this best while it is still hot, the spinach just wilted and tender. A healthy tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan in each serving is the only garnish; don’t skip it! Soup’s ON!

Tomato Florentine Soup


1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-(1 lb. can) crushed tomatoes [500 g]
1-(32 oz.) box chicken broth [898 ml]
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
4 oz. seashell pasta [112 g]
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, for garnish [45 g]

In 4-qt stockpot, add oil and heat then sauté the onion. Add the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, stir well to blend. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, cover, cook medium-low for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is tender. Add spinach leaves and simmer 1-2 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the spinach wilted. Ladle soup into bowls and top each with the freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately, while hot.

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