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 Soup8 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.