Quick, easy soups stave off winter cold

By John Lavanga / A&E Editor

Although we’ve recently received a nice respite from last week’s bone-chilling, frostbite-inducing, it’s-so-cold-I-can’t-even-get-my-phone-out-to-tweet-about-it bout of wintry weather, the cold has unquestionably left a mark in all our minds.

It’s the sort of weather that leaves many of us wondering why we didn’t apply to colleges in Arizona and thanking the heavens we didn’t choose to go to school in Canada. Though we’re not likely to face those sorts of inhumane temperatures again, it suffices to say that we’ve got a couple more months of unforgiving wind-chill and steep temperature drops ahead of us. Combine that with an impending flu season that strikes sleep-deprived students especially hard, and the University’s decision to call this the “spring semester” seems like cruel mockery.

Though there’s no perfect method to staving off the cold weather and acute illnesses that loom before us (you can only wear so many scarves at once before people begin to stare at you), we’re not entirely powerless in the face of winter. One of the best ways to help keep your immune system sharp and your body warm is a nice batch of vegetable-loaded soup.

While we’re at college, many of us — myself included — fail to get our recommended daily servings of vegetables, and hence, miss out on the loads and loads of vitamins they have to offer. Perhaps we find that fresh produce is too hard to come by, or that we’d rather spend our hard-earned dollars on food that is more filling. Either way, by doing so, we forgo one of the easiest ways to keep our bodies feeling fresh and healthy, not to mention warm.

But who has the time to cook up an elaborate soup? Enter my favorite veggie-loaded (yet hearty) recipe — Italian sausage and pepper soup. Loaded with onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes — not to mention pasta and sausage to fill you up — it’s easy to make a week’s worth of soup in less than an hour without breaking the bank or washing a thousand different pans.

In order to make the soup an even better fit for flu season, I’ve added chopped kale to the mix, which is loaded with vitamin C. Vegetarians can substitute a vegetarian Italian sausage and vegetable broth. 

1 pound Italian sausage (hot or sweet), removed from casing
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced 3 bell peppers, sliced 1/2 lb. fresh kale, chopped

2 cans diced tomatoes1/2 pound pasta (shells work best, but go nuts)

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried basil
8 cups chicken broth

6 tbsp. tomato paste 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in an 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add sausage and brown for 3-5 minutes. In a separate pot, boil 3-4 quarts of water and add uncooked pasta. Cook to desired firmness, then drain and set aside. Add diced onion and minced garlic to the sausage and cook for 5 minutes. Add peppers to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add kale and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth and tomato paste. Bring soup to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring oc- casionally. Stir in cooked pasta and serve.