The last few weeks of summer are upon us, and as the evenings start to get cooler, my thoughts always turn to the simple pleasures of making a big pot of soup.
During the week, preparation time for many of us is at a premium. But thanks to a few timesaving ingredients, this hearty soup – full of pasta and beans – can be on the table in about 22 minutes. One of the secrets is prepared pasta sauce, which saves several steps, creating a richly flavored base of cooked tomatoes and garlic. I like to (and usually do) make my own pasta sauce. But for last minute meals like this one, I always keep a jar or two of prepared sauce in the pantry. Of course, you can use your own homemade marinara instead, if you prefer.
Start by sautéing the onions, carrots, and celery. To that mixture, add vegetable broth, pasta sauce, white beans, and orzo (rice-shaped pasta). Allow the soup to simmer for a few minutes, just until the pasta is tender. Hurry and set the table, because, that’s it.
Serve this hearty soup any night of the week, along with a fresh green salad and toasted whole grain bread. If you have leftovers, Spicy Tomato Soup with Orzo is great for lunch the next day, too.
SPICY TOMATO SOUP WITH ORZO
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce, or 3 1/2 cups strained tomatoes
1 quart vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can navy or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup whole wheat orzo
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large soup pot, steam-sauté onion and carrots in a little water for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add the celery and continue cooking for another minute. Add the marinara sauce (or tomatoes), broth, beans, pasta, and seasonings.
Simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until orzo is al dente. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.