People here a have been complaining about sore throats all day. John came home from work sick. Good thing there was soup on the menu.
Sweet Potato Minestrone is a seasoned favorite around here. My mom found this recipe somewhere years ago. The original suggestion was to use mild Italian sausage, but no peppers for Buster (and Grandma) leaves you hunting for an alternative. After a little tweaking I finally came up with a spice combination that gets close enough to sausage for my palate. I hope you agree.
I have had a bumper crop of swiss chard this season, so rather than buy spinach, I just substituted chard in this time. I still think I prefer spinach in this soup, but the chard definitely holds it’s own in this application. You won’t be sorry either way you go.
This leads me to my budgetary tip of the day.
Herbs and Spices: Start an herb garden. Fresh herbs taste the best, but they are priced at a premium in the grocery store. Start with perennial varieties like sage, oregano, and rosemary. They come back year after year and grow like weeds and are just as easy to care for as weeds. Eventually you will be handing out samples to the neighbors. Herbs will definitely boost your gardening ego. The cost of those little plants will be recouped many times through the years.
Those who don’t want to brave a garden, but still want to save money on herbs and spices? Buy them in bulk and refill the containers you already have. Look at health food stores for their selections. Central Market and Sprouts are my preferred stores. When you buy a bottle of any herb or spice at the regular grocery store, you are mostly paying for the bottle. When you buy in bulk, you can often refill your bottle for less than a quarter. Use the saved money to try a new spice. Check your local Bed, Bath, and Beyond for empty spice bottles. They generally run about a dollar each. You can even bring that 20% off coupon to save enough to fill with something new right away. Laugh if you will. A penny saved is a penny earned.
If you are looking at that picture with a puzzled expression, you are in the same boat my daughter was in at dinner time. “Mama, where are the sweet potatoes?” They are in there. The variety that came in my Bountiful Basket last time was pale yellow instead of orange on the inside. The flavor was great, the color left something lacking this time. Though next time I go to the Asian grocery store, I might have to snag some of these to try instead. I’m sure Snuggle Bunny will love it!
Sweet Potato Minestrone
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrot, sliced
3 ribs, chopped celery, chopped
1 lb ground pork or turkey
4 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp thyme
3-4 medium, peeled, diced sweet potatoes
4 cups cooked great northern beans (measured after cooking or 2 cans)
2-3 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
enough water to cover
3 generous handfuls of spinach (or swiss chard)
salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Lightly salt. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the ground meat, fennel, and thyme, and cook until lightly browned.
Add sweet potatoes, beans, oregano, and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Stir in spinach and cook until the leaves wilt, about 2 minutes.