Bad Day Soup

I had a rather frustrating day. I won’t go into it, but when Yen came home, he determined that I deserved a day off from the gym. But, he declared, we needed to go out and buy more fruit, because it’s important that I have enough to bring to work tomorrow. As we were heading for the store anyway, I decided that between the bad day and the sudden cold (it’s 28 degrees right now and going to drop lower overnight), I needed to make what Jenny and I have long called “Pasta Fa-Ghoul.” It was invented around Halloween, you see.

This is one of those dishes that makes you feel better no matter what has transpired. The flavors are so comforting, and it’s so easy to put together, that it feels like you’re doing good things for yourself. I’ve posted this recipe before, but tonight I made a couple of adjustments on a whim, and it completely elevated it to something truly special. Yen kept asking me if I was OK because I was making little yummy moans while licking the spoon, but then who went back for a third bowl?

So without further introduction, make this soup.


1T garlic
1lb turkey or chicken sausage
1 15oz-can red kidney beans
1 15oz-can cannellini
1 29oz-can tomato sauce
2 c chicken broth
2 c water
1t oregano
1T balsamic vinegar
1T Worcester sauce
red pepper/Sriracha/etc. (optional)
1/4 parmesan cheese
1 c dry small pasta (elbows work well)
**update more than a year later** a few handfuls of dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, etc)

Directions (which include repeats of the ingredients, as I originally wrote this post without an ingredient list)

1. Brown about a tablespoon of garlic in a little oil over medium heat.

2. Remove a pound of turkey sausages (I go for hot, but you could use sweet if you wanted to) from their casings, and drop them in with the garlic and oil. Mash them up until they’re crumbles instead of links. Believe it or not, I use a potato masher to do this. It’s way more effective than a spoon or fork.

3. Drain and rinse a can of red kidneys, and a can of northern white beans (sometimes labeled “cannellini”). Dump these in with the turkey.

4. Add in a big can of tomato sauce – the 29oz ones. Or two of the smaller ones would work – you can figure it out.

5. Stir, and then add a box (32oz) of vegetable broth. You can use chicken too, of course, but I didn’t want to go overboard with the animal products. I was already feeling guilt about the turkey.

6. Stir everything up. Now add: salt to taste, black pepper, about 2 teaspoons of oregano (Mexican if you have it, but Turkish will do), a few squirts of Sriracha, a couple teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and a couple teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. These last three were my whim-additions, and they’re what elevated this particular batch to legendary status.

7. Bring to a low boil – not too crazy, just a few bubbles around the edges.

8. Add a quarter cup of grated parm, and a cup of dry noodles of your choice. Smaller is better – think elbows here. I have occasionally added baby spinach at this step (when I have it on hand and when I want this to include a vegetable), but not tonight.

9. Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. Longer is better because the pasta will get softer, but I’m rarely able to wait that long.

The leftovers are the best. It will get so thick over night that it can’t properly be called “soup” anymore. I put it into meal-sized containers as soon as I’m done eating, otherwise I’ll dish out enormous portions when I’m hungry, then roam the house making miserable-stuffed-tummy moans instead of yummy ones.