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Starlight on Willow Lake:
Now in audio:
|In This Edition…
- In the deep midwinter…in the Big Apple
- Hot reads for a cold day
- Connect with me in 2015
- Recipe: Perfect Winter Soup
It’s the middle of winter but I’ve been looking for signs of spring. Seed catalogs, planning the garden, wishing the days would get longer….
And then this week, something happened to remind me that winter, too, has its special charms. I was lucky enough to experience the season in one of my favorite cities—New York. The predicted “great blizzard” turned out to be a lovely snowfall that simply slowed everything down. I took a brisk hike through Central Park with no traffic, just kids having a snow day and dogs romping in their booties. My fondness for shopping was curtailed, and I found myself walking down a nearly-deserted Fifth Avenue. Other than the occasional chunk of snow and ice falling from the sky scrapers, and pools of slush in the intersections, there were few hazards of traffic and congestion. Here are a few snapshots I took on my walk.
And of course, the best part of a chilly hike is a warm hotel and a good book! Currently, I’m juggling several wonderful reads, including Lost and Found by Brooke Davis, Desert God by Wilbur Smith, John Doe (a short read) by Tess Gerritsen, Dollface by Renee Rosen, The Wonders by Paddy O’Reilly, and Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas. My own current releases are Just Breathe in audio, a reissue of Texas Wildflower, and the upcoming paperback edition of The Apple Orchard. The rest of the year is filled with special editions of reader favorites, and a new hardcover, Starlight on Willow Lake, available for preorder now.
Let’s make 2015 all about connecting. I love our growing community of good-hearted women…and a few well-behaved men! Here are my favorite ways to socialize online:
Twitter: @susanwiggs http://www.twitter.com/susanwiggs
And finally, we get to the good part: FOOD. My dad had a saying I remember from my childhood: “What makes Joe Louis win all his fights? He eats Pasta Fazool, morning, noon and night.” I suppose it was Dad’s way of convincing us to eat healthy. So in honor of Dad, here is my favorite recipe for Pasta Fazool—the soup version. Enjoy!
(photo credit: wbgh.org)
Pasta Fazool Soup (based on traditional recipes, trial, and error) aka Pasta e Fagioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup pancetta or snipped bacon, or for the veggie version, use chopped fresh mushrooms; porcini would be a good choice
1 minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chopped tomatoes, or one 15oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs—I like thyme, sage or basil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 can cannellini beans (15 oz.), drained and rinsed
Optional additions: chopped carrot, celery, kale or spinach
1 cup dried pasta—try elbow mac or small penne
Parmesan cheese fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
Warm the oil in a soup pot. Add the pancetta or mushrooms, onion and garlic and saute. Add the tomatoes, herbs, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper.
Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the beans and stock and optional ingredients, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente, then drain and shake with a sprinkling of butter or oil to keep it from clumping.
Spoon a portion of pasta into individual bowls, and ladle the soup over it. Garnish with grated cheese and a few cut fresh parsley. Serve immediately. A glass of Barolo and a cut of warm salted rosemary bread is an excellent accompaniment. Yields 4 generous servings.