Oh my, do I have some fun to share with you today! It has been cold and snowy here all week in Boise which makes me want to hunker down by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa, a warm soup on the stove and a cozy sewing project to while away the hours. Lucky for me I have just the line-up for a truly perfect afternoon. First, the soup. I love bean soups, but I think that a creamy white bean soup is my favorite. For my birthday J got me a lovely hand-blender that I had been eying for quite some time, and this is just the soup to put it to good use. This soup is not only delicious, but it is also really good for you, full of fiber, iron and protein it is the perfect hearty winter soup to warm you up on a cold day. Also, you can use canned or dried beans in the recipe, but if you use dried beans be sure to soak them overnight and then bring to a boil and simmer them for an hour or two before adding to the soup. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! It’s great served with a crusty loaf of bread.
Creamy White Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (16 ounce) cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups homemade or good quality chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 handful fresh chopped parsley
1/4 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
- In a large saucepan, heat oil. Cook onion and celery in oil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, continually stirring. Stir in 3 cans of beans, chicken broth, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
- With slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of the bean and vegetable mixture from soup and set aside.
- Using a hand blender, or in stand blender at low speed, blend remaining soup in small batches until smooth, (it helps to remove the center piece of the blender lid to allow steam to escape.) Once blended pour soup back into stock pot and stir in reserved beans and final can of beans.
- Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring. Stir in spinach and cook 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Remove from heat and serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Felted Stuffed Animals
The sewing project I’ve been working on today is so fun and perfect for any little munchkins in your life that you need an adorable Christmas gift for… this will not disappoint!
The Martha Stewart website has a great section of projects to make with felt and today I’m going to show you the most adorable felt animals that I made using this template from her website. The first step in creating these little lovelies was to felt my wool sweaters. When wool is washed and dried, it is transformed into felt. Some of you may have accidentally discovered this transformation when a favorite sweater comes out of the wash as a miniature version of its former self. While this outcome can be very upsetting when unplanned, an old sweater that you no longer wear can be given new life once transformed into felt. So gather up your old sweaters or stop by your local thrift shop and pick up a few to make some great holiday gifts. To turn these sweaters into felt you simply need to machine-wash a woolen sweater in hot water, and toss it in a dryer set to a high temperature. Once you can snip the fabric with scissors and it doesn’t fray you have successfully turned your sweater into felt! You may need to wash and dry it more than once to achieve your felted results.
What could beat an adorable barnyard of stuffed animals? Old MacDonald has nothing on these sweet little lambs, chickens and piggies! I was able to whip this project together over the course of the weekend, but if you were really focused it could easily be done in an afternoon. So fun!