Turning Disaster Into Dinner

The other night I was starting to cook a soup based on ground Italian sausage. That’s what I started with but about two minutes into browning the sausage I got distracted with something on the TV. By the time my mind wandered back to the job at hand I had a minor disaster. The sausage was burned. Not “slightly overcooked” – black and no longer fit to eat. I can tell you I was decidedly unhappy with myself.

Now I had a problem. I had already opened a can of cannellini beans and set them to drain in the sink. I also had a can of stewed tomatoes opened and ready to add to the pan. It was bad enough that the sausage had to go in the garbage but I had no intention of wasting other food.

So I did a quick search on the Internet. Remembering the frozen chicken breasts I kept handy I thought I might be able to salvage the situation with a chicken cannellini soup. Sure enough I found a recipe that fit the bill. I even had the orzo and bacon called for in the recipe. So about 45 minutes later I had a respectable soup to serve. This is definitely going into my permanent recipe file. It uses ingredients I nearly always have on hand and can be put together in less than an hour. The flavor is hearty but not too spicy. Try it in your home and see what I mean.

Chicken Cannellini Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Slice Bacon, Diced
  • 10 Ounce Chicken Breast, Diced
  • ½ Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 14 Ounce Stewed Tomatoes, Mashed
  • 1 Teaspoon Basil
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • ½ Cups Orzo Pasta
  • 14 Ounce Cannellini, Drained
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt, Optional
Instructions
  1. Dice bacon, chicken, and onion separately. Remove cannellini beans from can and allow to drain in a sieve. Remove stewed tomatoes and slightly mash them. Bring out all other ingredients before you begin cooking.
  2. Cook diced bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Remove from pan to drain on paper towel. Return pan to stove with 1-2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Add diced chicken and cook about 4 minutes until tender. Remove from pan and allow to drain with the bacon. Add onion to pan and saute 2-3 minutes, adding vegetable oil if needed. Add diced garlic and cook another minute, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning.
  3. Return bacon and chicken to pan and stir to rewarm. Pour in stewed tomatoes, basil, black pepper, and chicken broth. Cover and bring just to a boil. Add orzo pasta and simmer about 9 minutes to cook the orzo. Add cannelini beans, stir well, and allow to simmer 3-4 minutes. Add salt if needed. Serve with garlic bread and grated parmesan or romano cheese.

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Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is the triumph of hope over experience.Marina Schinz
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