New Restaurants at the Adrienne Arsht Center with Chef Allen Susser and Chef Hector Torres

Jan 8, 2015

01/08/15 - 1:30 - Syndicated food columnist Linda Gassenheimer, Special wine correspondent Fred Tasker and WLRN hosts Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman interview Chef Allen Susser; he discusses his new café at the Books and Books Café in the Sears Tower; and Chef Hector Torres discusses Brava, his new restaurant replacing Prelude at the Artsh Center.  They bring food for us to taste on the air.

Live food tasting with Bonnie, Joe (center), Linda, Chef Torres and Chef Allen
Credit WLRN/Paul Leary

Food from Brava.

~~Dinner in Minutes~~

Pasta and Bean Soup: won’t break the calorie or bank budget

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.

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.


Pasta and Bean Soup

Pasta and Bean Soup

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 InformationPer 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

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for tonight’s Dinner in Minutes.

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