THE RECIPE BOX – Hearty soup is just the recipe for a busy holiday season

THE RECIPE BOX – Hearty soup is just the recipe for a busy holiday season

PAWTUCKET – The beauty of this week’s soup recipe, especially at this busy holiday season time of year, is that you can make it ahead and it’s there when you need nourishment. In between all the rushing around and hectic schedules of a working mother and wife, it’s a go-to for Sarah Bohannon.

Because it’s easy to make and full of delicious vegetables, she will often drop off a batch to a friend who is having any kind of disturbance in their routine (such as an illness or a loss), she shared. “It’s something concrete that I can do (to help),” Sarah said.

As mom to a boy, age 8, and a girl, age 5, she and her husband have known each other since she was just 16 years old. “We suddenly ended up dating after I was 21,” she shared.

It was the night before Thanksgiving and she had gone home for the holiday to her parents’ house. “I ended up on the phone for so long (with him),” Sarah said. That was the turning point where it was officially a relationship. “He’s my best friend,” she added.

Sarah attended college at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She received her bachelor of arts degree in integrated studies, and sociology and landed a job in a consulting firm for a time, although she always had envisioned becoming a veterinarian.

At one point, after leaving the consulting firm and starting her family, she did take the course and became a veterinary technician. “I loved the work but it didn’t really pay the bills,” she said. Her true passion did not emerge until some bad luck, a wet road and slippery flip-flops caused her an injury that broke her shin bone.

After five months of physical therapy, she was still unable to really walk and she decided to join her local YMCA (then living in North Kingtown) and give water exercise a try. “In just two weeks I was walking better than the five months of treatment,” Sarah said.

She realized that she loved the environment at the YMCA so much and because she was there so often, the staff encouraged her to learn to teach classes. She did just that and today it is her job. Sarah is a water fitness instructor teaching classes in the pool as well as some relaxation techniques after the class.

She works at The MacColl Y in Lincoln and at L.A. Fitness in Pawtucket, in between caring for her family. She also enjoys singing, reading and loves camping with the family. They attend Murray Unitarian Universalist Church in Attleboro, Mass., where she was recently serving up her homemade minestrone soup to folks at their annual Christmas bazaar.

As for Thanksgiving, “Well it’s a time for us as relatively prosperous Americans to be thankful, glad that we have a meal on the table to share,” Sarah said.

Minestrone Soup

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced white onions (1 sm.)
1/2 cup frozen chopped zucchini
1/2 cup frozen cut Italian green beans
1/4 cup minced celery (about 1/2 stalk)
4 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups vegetable broth (like Swanson, not chicken stock!)
2 (15-oz.) cans red kidney beans
2 (15-oz.) cans small white beans or Great Northern beans, drained
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cups carrots, julienned or shredded
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 & 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 & 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup small shell pasta

• Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
• Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent.
• Add vegetable broth to pot, plus tomatoes, beans, carrots, hot water and spices.
• Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
• Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.

To make it gluten free, make sure the vegetable broth and the pasta are gluten free.

Sarah Bohannon, of Pawtucket, likes to have this hearty minestrone soup on hand for a quick, delicious meal during the hectic holiday season.