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Falling temperatures usher in distinct and diverse seasons for those excited to feel the chill in the air. Shopaholics, with GPS in programmed, have spreadsheets in the works for the endless barrage of holiday sales. Football fanatics don their cheeseheads and face paint, while we deck the halls in Philly Flyers gear. To some it means ski season approaches – Teenage boy will move his snowboard into his trunk so he will not miss a chance of shooshing through every snowfall possible.

Shooshing. Derived from the root word “Shoosh”. Verb. Definition: “to speed down snowy hill at breakneck speed for the sole purpose of reaching the bottom in time to watch as mom falls on her [bleep] and then convincing her to try again”. Ah, the love.

But to me, it’s Soup Season. I am much more in favor of hibernation than any activity that involves cold, snow, wind, cold wind, ice or any combination there of (***). The aroma of a steaming kettle of ingredients infusing on the stove fills me with the same joy as Lucy shaking her can of nickels while sitting at her “Psychiatrist” stand.

My idols growing up were Lucy, Lucille Ball and Gilda Radner. Explains much, yes? (photobucket.com)

Nothing else combines much-needed warmth on a snowy day into a hearty and nutritious meal quite the way homemade soup will. Add a freshly baked loaf of bread, and it feeds the body and soul. (Shh. Can you hear that? the Herald Angels Sing!) Knowing there is a pot of soup waiting is the only way I can convince myself to build one more snowman or plow down a hill on a tube until icicles have formed in my hair. Or shooshing. What we do in the name of “Family Fun”.

Some recipes I’ve come across have been abit involved, but I have adapted several into a “throw in the crock pot & curl up with a good book” version. My experimentation with recipes started by trying to use up leftovers and I have found it to be very forgiving. I realized how easy it is to invent as I went along. Soup is not an exact science; so easy to add alittle more broth, try a different herb, or thicken with abit of flour or cornstarch. Try doing that with puff pastry. You can’t. Unless you don’t mind food that resembles Silly Putty.

Humble beginnings (rerunrunning.com)

This vegetable soup qualifies as a favorite on many levels. Everyone loves it, no one tries to pick out mystery ingredients because it’s flexible and customizable. It can be made in less than an hour, and is the perfect way to use up leftovers:

In large pot with lid, I start with about 40-45 oz of diced or crushed tomatoes, depending on what I have on hand. If you are using store-bought, I highly recommend the “Tuttorosso” brand.

For seasoning, I like garlic, basil, salt & pepper. Start with alittle, you can add more. (Oregano is also great with tomato based dishes).

Add 2 cups vegetable or beef broth. Even if you’re not adding meat, the beef broth gives it a richer flavor.

Next 2-3 cups diced or chopped veggies. A great way to use whats on hand, your families favorites, leftovers, or use frozen mixed veggies.

2 cups meat (cooked). Again great with any leftovers or whats on hand, we love diced or ground italian sausage or beef; also tasty with poultry. If you want to keep it vegetarian, you can add more veggies or pasta.

Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about half hour.

Next add about a cup of small uncooked pasta; shells, elbows. Cover and let cook until pasta is al dente (about 10 minutes more).

That’s it. We like it with a little Asiago or parmesan on top.

***Yes, I realize I moved from Wisconsin to Connecticut, did not gain any ground in the climate catagory. In my own defense, Clark was living in Florida when we first met. And he’s a sweetie. And love is blind stupid.