This year’s soup-er bowl

With the Patriots out of the playoffs, this writer turns to comfort food.


With my team, the New England Patriots, out of the playoffs and no prospect of a Super Bowl appearance for one of the first times in two decades, I’m drowning my sorrows — not in alcohol, but soup.

To me, soup is the ultimate comfort food. It’s warm, and the recipes I gravitate toward are hearty and filling. Perfect for a cold, raw Island day.

There’s something about this pandemic that has given me a hunger to make things. I’ve done nearly a dozen pandemic projects around the house — building a fence and gates for our new pup, a surround for our outdoor shower, and I even cut countertop from scrap marble as part of a renovation of our pantry.

Apparently, that’s not enough to keep me busy, because I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, too. (My wife is thrilled on both counts.)

A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend started posting what seemed like an endless supply of recipes — many of them soups. One in particular caught my eye, this One-Pot Spinach Beef Soup by Taste of Home.

I was never a big fan of spinach growing up, despite its apparent effect on the cartoon character Popeye. That stuff from a can is gross, and turned me off for decades, but I’ve since grown fond of the fresh stuff from the produce section of the supermarket.

This recipe is soup-er easy, and can be made on a work night. It comes together in about 30 minutes, and is only as difficult as mincing the garlic and chopping the spinach. I even cheated a bit, using an already mixed Italian seasoning where the recipe calls for dried oregano and basil. The final product was delicious, and, I might add, even better heated up the next day for lunch. It was reminiscent of a pasta e fagioli my wife makes, and we may, indeed, add red kidney beans to this recipe the next time — and there will be a next time.

None of the soup recipes I’ve made will replace the thrill of watching Tom Brady march the Patriots down the field for a last-minute win in the big game. But they sure take the chill out of watching him do it for another team.

One-Pot Spinach Beef Soup

1 lb. ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cartons (32 oz.) reduced-sodium beef broth
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with green pepper, celery, and onion, undrained
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
3 cups uncooked bow-tie pasta
4 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
grated Parmesan cheese

In a stockpot, cook the beef and garlic over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink (we used meatloaf mix because we like the mix of ground beef and ground pork), breaking it into crumbles. Drain, and then stir in the broth, tomatoes, and seasonings; bring to a boil. Stir in pasta, return to boil, until the pasta is tender, 7 to 9 minutes (bow-tie pasta can take a little longer). Stir in spinach until wilted. (This happens fast!) Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.