Linda Gassenheimer's "Restaurant Roundabout” December 2014 Edition

Dec 18, 2014

12/18/14 - Thursday's Topical Currents is Linda Gassenheimer’s “Restaurant Roundabout” extravaganza!  We have two restaurant connoisseurs on hand:  Miami-based critic & travel writer Jen Karetnick as well as Thrillist Media Group Editor, Matt Meltzer.  He speaks about Broward County eateries. Also, news of the ever-changing South Florida restaurant scene.  Fred Tasker will give his wine suggestions. What’s hot . . . And what’s not.  Openings, closings and chef changes. And of course, we feature you.  Give us a call with favorite spots in the region.  Perhaps you have a particular gripe you need to re-count. 800-743-9576.   That's Topical Currents, Thursday at 1pm.  For a list of places mentioned on the program please go to

~~Featured Recipe: Pasta and Bean Soup~~
Copyright Linda Gassenheimer

This thick and hearty soup made with pasta and red kidney beans is a whole meal in a bowl.  Soups at this time of year are a welcoming treat, but they usually take too long to make for a mid-week meal. This quick meal takes only 30 minutes start to finish. The horseradish and vinegar add a little kick and help the flavors of the vegetables blend. The cheddar cheese adds flavor and texture.

Pasta and Bean Soup

To make this a vegetarian meal, substitute more cheese for the ham.

This is a great recipe to use when you can’t get to the supermarket. I always have canned tomatoes, beans and pasta in the cupboard, and onions, celery and carrots in the refrigerator.  Frozen spinach can be substituted for fresh or it can be left out, lettuce can be used instead of cabbage.

I find that this tastes great the second day. You can make double the recipe and have another quick meal waiting for you.  When left to stand or used the next day, the pasta may absorb more of the liquid. If it becomes too thick, just add more water while rewarming


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sliced yellow onion

1/2 cup sliced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

3 cups water

2 1/2 cups canned low-sodium diced tomatoes (including juice)

1 cup sliced white cabbage

2 ounces uncooked fusilli pasta (1 cup)

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 cups fresh spinach, washed

1 cup rinsed and drained canned red beans

1/4 pound lean smoked ham cubes (about 3/4 cup)

2 ounces shredded low fat cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, carrots and celery.  Saute 2 to 3 minutes.   Add water and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, cover and cook 5 minutes.   Add cabbage and fusilli pasta.  Raise heat and boil, uncovered, 10 minutes. Mix horseradish and vinegar together. Add to soup with spinach, beans and ham. Boil 1 to 2 minutes. Pasta will be cooked. Spinach will just be wilted. Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Makes 2 servings.

 Nutrition InformationThe nutritional analysis is for the entire one-pot meal. Per serving: 532 calories (22 percent from fat), 13.3 g fat 3.4 g saturated, 5.8 g monounsaturated), 33 mg cholesterol, 34.0 g protein, 73.1 g carbohydrates, 16.8 g fiber, 752 mg sodium.Shopping List

To buy: 1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes, 1 can red kidney beans, 1 package washed-ready-to eat shredded cabbage, 1 package washed-ready-to eat spinach, 1 small package fusilli pasta,1 jar prepared horseradish, 1 small package low-fat shredded cheddar cheese and 1/4 pound lean smoked ham.

Staples: Yellow onion, carrots, celery,olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black peppercorns.

Helpful Hints

  • Any type of cheese can be substituted for the cheddar cheese.
  • Ask the Deli to cut one thick slice of ham for the ham cubes.
  • Buy shredded cabbage in the produce section and use washed, peeled baby carrots.
  • Use any type of short cut pasta such as elbow macaroni or penne.  Or, use up different types of pasta you have.  If they’re long, break them into smaller pieces and add to soup.
  • Slice all of the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a thick slicing blade.
  • A few drops of hot pepper sauce can be used instead of horseradish.


  • Prepare ingredients and make soup.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 20 books including her newest, The Flavors of the Florida Keys and Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.  Follow Linda on Twitter: @LGassenheimer, Facebook: Linda Gassenheimer