Weather Updates

Simple soup is the solution to host of resolutions


Makes 6 servings

2 links uncooked Italian sausage, casing removed

6 cups water or unsalted broth

1 (10-ounce) package dry soup with beans mix, like Sunny Caribbean White Bean or Cuban Style Black Beans and Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups chard leaves, coarsely chopped

In a 6-quart soup pot over medium heat, brown sausage, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks.

Add liquid and bring to a boil. Add soup mix and its seasoning packet and the oil. Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer and cook 1 hour.

Stir in chard leaves and continue to simmer another 30 minutes, checking to see that beans are tender.
— Judith Dunbar Hines

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: April 14, 2014 4:47PM

Do you feel like I do this morning? The whirlwind of events, plus a rare confluence of multiple holidays in one four-week period, conspired to pressurize the season more than usual. The face peering back at me from the mirror on this New Year’s Day seems, well, less optimistic than usual.

And in the kitchen, the contents of the fridge crisper look like I feel — a little wilted.

Today we need something nutritious without a lot of fuss. What shall I cook for dinner on this first day of a new calendar?

I keep a shelf for staples to get me through just this type of emergency. In winter, it’s well stocked with soup and bean mixes, and it’s there I turn today.

I choose a mix from Spark of the Heart, a South Side Chicago company ( that not only makes tasty soup mixes, but they partner with Gateway to Learning, a social service agency that employs developmentally challenged adults to package the mixes.

Ingredients are organic and all-natural. So my taste-good dinner also will contribute to my New Year’s eat-better and do-more-good resolutions.

Everything I need is in the bag except water or broth, but I check the fridge for possible add-ins. Some chard from the winter farmers market and a link or two of spicy sausage would make the lightly curry-flavored “Sunny Caribbean” mix just that much more hearty and delicious.

Sausage browns quickly to start the flavor layers, then everything else goes into the pot to simmer. The chard, washed and chopped, goes in for the last 30 minutes, adding fresh color and welcome vitamins, both of which should brighten my day and my outlook.

Ahhh. Check doing good and eating well off the to-do list for today. My new year is starting out just right.

Local Attractions uses the best of regional produce and products and hopes you will do the same.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.