A brand new year offers opportunity for a new beginning, and for searching out ways to be an even better person than one was in the previous year. Getting healthy, learning something new, and endeavoring upon brand new challenges is what it’s all about, and this tasty and soothing Italian vegetable soup with spicy sausage and gnocchi is the perfect elixir for both body and soul.
Whenever a brand new year rolls around, I feel two things: excitement and enthusiasm for fresh opportunities and the chance to begin again with gusto, but also a slight mourning for the old year that is now over and gone, one that I had gotten to know so well and had gotten very comfortable with.
It always takes me several weeks to find my bearing in a new year, find my groove; because for some reason, each new year just feels different to me, feels like a space I’m unfamiliar with, a space with a new energy all its own, who’s vibe I must get to know and become comfortable with all over again.
But that’s good for me. It’s exactly as it should be.
It’s beneficial to come out of what is comfortable and what is known, and venture out into new territory and new experiences with a fresh excitement, fresh eyes, for all that is possible in the months to come.
And new things, indeed, are on the horizon.
Stepping into a new year requires faith, contemplation, a searching out of one’s heart, and a desire to go deeper with life if one’s hope is to move forward and to continue to evolve.
It requires trying new things, growing in new ways, and expanding one’s understanding of how one has been living and, if more is wanted, expanding one’s approach to living.
Perhaps a new year means growing one’s business, and taking it to the next level, as my hubby and I are in the midst of doing; or beginning a new project (or labor of love) and sharing it with others (which, once again, we are in the midst doing); or deciding to get healthy and dedicating some time to personal enhancement and betterment (always looking for that); or even learning to cook, or doing more of it, in the spirit of love (yes!), if one is already a seasoned pro.
It’s never been about resolutions for me, since I’m not a resolution type of person; but it is about acknowledging the “marker” that is a new year, and allowing some excitement and enthusiasm for this upcoming year to bubble up to the surface in order to make it an even better one than the last.
Who knows what the next twelve months will hold for any of us?
I’m sure they’ll be full of all sorts of experiences, ones that are obviously positive, and ones that will challenge in ways that will create some discomfort and perhaps even a little pain during the “growing” process.
But as the saying goes (and it’s one that I’ve always been a bit partial to), “It’s all just grist for the mill”.
My hope is to hit the ground running in this new year, and to not allow fear of something new to put any brakes on my life.
I have to trust that whatever I don’t know, whatever is new to me, I will learn as I go!
My hope is to make this year count, make all of the endeavors count, and to allow for all that I taste within these next twelve months to make me a more complex, more well-rounded, and more mature human being.
I’d like for this new year to be a magical one, one that I will look back upon as a turning point for what the rest of my life holds.
So in the spirit of health and wellness, in the spirit of comfort and coziness, and in fresh starts, I bring a recipe good for both the body and soul, one with simple ingredients that contains that flavor of love that good cooking should contain, an Italian vegetable soup with spicy sausage and tender gnocchi to warm all of us up.
Here’s to fresh starts, and to finding some excitement in a brand new year!
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Italian Vegetable Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage and Gnocchi
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6
• Olive or avocado oil
• 2 links spicy Italian sausage (or you can use sweet, if you prefer), casings removed and crumbled
• 2 leeks (white part only), washed, halved, and sliced thinly
• 1 fennel bulb, quartered, core removed, and sliced thinly
• 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
• 1 rib celery, diced
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 6 cups chicken stock, hot
• 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained of juice and roughly chopped into large chunks
• 1 (15 ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 cup chopped kale
• 1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
• Squeeze of lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
• 1 (16 ounce) package gnocchi, cooked according to package instructions
• Shaved or grated parmesan cheese as garnish, if desired
-Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of oil; once hot, crumble in the Italian sausage and brown for a few minutes; add in leeks, fennel, parsnip, carrot, and celery, and stir together; add a pinch of salt and pepper, plus the Italian seasoning, and saute everything for a few minutes until the veggies become tender.
-Stir in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the hot chicken stock, the chopped tomatoes and the navy beans, and stir.
-Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender; turn off the heat, and stir in the kale, the flat-leaf parsley, and the squeeze of lemon; check to see if any additional salt and pepper is needed.
-Add a small amount of the cooked gnocchi to a bowl, and ladle some of the hot soup over; drizzle with a little extra olive oil, plus a sprinkle of parm (if desired), and enjoy.