Thursday, December 12, 2013

simple holidays and white bean soup

December is flying by faster than I want it to.  It always does, but this year the days seem to move even quicker in a blur of snacks and diapers and trucks.  Then we add in the holiday extras- cookie baking and celebration planning and greens for the mantle- and things start to feel very crowded.  

Steve and I chose a car load of stuff to take to Goodwill last weekend and that helped.  We are constantly trying to live smaller- to have just what we need, to keep things simple.  

Keeping things simple is both easier and harder with a toddler.  Running holiday errands has become a much more complicated procedure.  But our prayer before dinner this month is just "xie-xie (thank you) Lord for Jesus, amen" and I love how easy it is to clearly state the reason for all this celebration.  The lights, the tree, the gifts- we're just trying to celebrate how thankful we are for Him.  

Arthur and I made Chex mix yesterday and I decided that it may be the perfect thing to "cook" with a toddler.  It's really hard to ruin Chex mix.  Also, he can eat all the pieces both before and after they cook.  

We also (I use the term "we" loosely here) made Italian White Bean Soup for dinner.  I love almost any white bean soup because it is hearty enough without meat.  

Italian White Bean Soup

30 oz. canned white beans
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 ham hocks
28 oz. diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 10 minutes until soft.  Add celery, carrot, ham hocks and garlic.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  

Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add beans and remaining 2 cups chicken broth.  Bring contents to a boil, add salt and pepper, then cover and cook over low heat for at least 1 hour.  Remove ham hocks.  

Working in batches, put a portion of soup in the blender and pulse three times.  Do this until there are no large chunks remaining.  Stir in cheese and serve.  

Next time, I would add a few rosemary sprigs as well.  We enjoyed our soup with cornbread and extra Parmesan cheese on top.  

Once dinner is over, our dining table turns into a packing station each night as Steve and I try to keep up with holiday orders.  I'm so thankful for his help that I bought a second packing tape dispenser this week so that he can have his own.  You're welcome, sweetheart.  

There's still plenty of time to order gifts- I'm accepting orders for in-stock items with standard shipping up through 9am EST on December 19th.  We're starting to sell out of a few things, so I've been ordering more fabric this week and crossing my fingers that it will arrive quickly.  

This weekend, we're planning to finish our Christmas shopping and celebrate our favorite little boy as he turns three!  I'll meet you back here next week for more holiday cheer!

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