Operation Clean Out The Fridge: Quick Spinach Mushroom Soup

I was craving vegetable soup last night, but rather than run to the vegetable place in the rain, I decided to use my emergency packet of frozen spinach. I grabbed some dried Chinese black mushrooms from the cabinet (Porcini would have been better, but I didn't think of them until it was too late...), the remains of a bag of pasta, and a little frozen chicken for protein (beans would have been great, but I didn't have any that filled the bill). VoilĂ : easy soup!

Quick Spinach Mushroom Soup

6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 clove garlic + 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence (if you haven't already flavored your stock)
1 cup dried fusilli pasta
1 cup dried or fresh mushrooms (variety is your choice)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
1/2 cup shredded chicken (optional)

Boil stock (add garlic and herbs if you want), add fusilli, reduce the heat a little, and cook until the pasta's tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, if using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until soft, then roughly chop (or clean and chop fresh mushrooms). Add mushrooms (if using fresh, add them just before the pasta's finished), spinach, and chicken to the soup, warm gently, and remove from heat.

Serve with Parmesan cheese and freshly-ground black pepper.

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