Irish Blessing

Irish Blessing

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ground "Hog" Day: A Recipe

How about a little "ground hog" for Groundhog Day tomorrow? No, I am not suggesting that Punxsutawney Phil end up in a soup bowl on February 2. After all, we won't know until tomorrow whether the furry rodent is telling us we'll have six more weeks of winter or not.

On Thursday, for the 131st time, Phil will venture out of his burrow at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Philadelpia. According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If the day is overcast and he doesn't see his shadow, there is supposed to be an early spring.

With all the TV cameras and lights involved with the TV morning shows, I figure Phil's going to see his shadow - one way or another. But we'll see what Phil's verdict is.

The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earlier settlers. It stemmed from a combination of religious beliefs and facts associated with hibernating animals. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

We got a jump on "ground hog" day with a new soup recipe. It uses Italian sausage, but it doesn't discriminate. There's also some ground beef in it. I personally like the combination, since Italian sausage can be a little spicy. I personally liked that the hamburger tempered that a bit.

It also includes a variety of fresh-chopped vegetables - carrots, celery, onion and spinach. Yes, spinach. The recipe call for 5 ounces of baby spinach. That looks like a lot! But, after only a short time, it wilts down and you'll forget that it looked like mountains of green stuff to begin with!

Cannellini beans and ditalini pasta also provide the thickness we prefer in a soup. Canned or jarred marinara sauce, along with a little Italian seasoning, provide a lot of flavor without emptying the spice cabinet.

Enjoy with some cornbread or crackers! 
Hearty Italian Soup
8 oz. mild Italian sausage
8 oz. hamburger
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion (or more to taste), chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
24 ounce jar marinara sauce
3 cups chicken broth
4 oz. ditalini pasta
5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
Optional:  Shaved Parmesan cheese for serving

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, brown the meats, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain excess fat.

Add all other ingredients, except spinach and Parmesan cheese. Turn heat up to high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and partially cover with a lid. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add chopped baby spinach. Stir and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes, then serve. If you like thinner soup, you may need to add a little more broth or water, especially when reheating leftovers. (Pasta always absorbs more of the liquid after sitting.)

If desired, top with shaved Parmesan cheese before serving.


  1. Sounds delicious but I won't be making it today with 35C on the horizon.
    Is an early spring good or bad for the farm?

    1. Yes, our 16 degrees F this morning makes soup much more desirable, doesn't it?

  2. It does look good but I have to agree with Helen - it may take a few months before I try it!

    I hear congratulations are in order. Well done for receiving an inaugural Golden Tractor Award for being a Top Farming and Agriculture Blogs. Well deserved I reckon. I do so love your blog and your story telling. You certainly have a way with words that make your daily life on the farm very interesting to read.

    1. When we turned your calendar to February, Randy commented that you are baling while we are selling what we baled last summer! The timing is off in the different hemispheres, but we understand the processes.

      Thanks for your kind words. It's nice to be recognized.

  3. Well...Phil saw his shadow, so I guess it'll be 6 more weeks of winter. But at this rate, I'll take it! We were predicted to have a frigid winter, but so far it feels rather like early spring!
    Looking at your recipe (which looks delicious!) I just have to share this...when my Dad was a young boy growing up in the depression, his family ate groundhog. It was a cheap way to feed the family. I couldn't bring myself to do it, but I guess desperation calls for desperate measures!!
    I just read the comment before mine...congratulations on your award!!

    1. We haven't had much snow at all, though we had a major ice storm 3 weeks ago. We're having another cold snap after unseasonably warm temps early in the week. Even Phil can't outguess the weatherman!

      I think our forefathers ate many things that we turn up our noses at. And they were glad to have them. We are blessed for sure!