Living in Carthage frequently brings lots of smiles to my face but probably nothing more so than the Maple Leaf Festival.

As with most everything, Maple Leaf is different in 2020. Some events were canceled, and some were modified to fit restrictions and safety.

I appreciate the event chairs, who all had difficult decisions to make. Maybe your favorite event isn't scheduled this year, but there's still lots going on this week. Check out the Maple Leaf Festival on Facebook.

While the current 80-degree weather doesn't exactly scream time for soup, cooler weather soon will seem more like fall.

Yet weather has never been an influence on my desire for soup. My May birthday dinner request was always vegetable soup, which meant a delicious roast the day before. Saved leftover veggies frozen in a freezer bag go in to make it extra good.

While vegetable soup and potato soup rank up there as favorites, think outside the box for other ingredients. Sausage and corn chowder. Meatless cauliflower chili. Carrot or pumpkin. Tortellini and spinach. Cheddar broccoli. White or black bean. Meatball or turkey.

Bulk up that soup with fillers such a macaroni or other pasta, rice, barley or other grains, beans or split peas or other legumes, potatoes, or other vegetables. Sometimes that dab of leftovers in the fridge is what's needed for tasty and filling soup.

I love today's recipes. Both are one-pot wonders. One is more of a dump recipe while the other has several steps but still doesn't take long to come together.

It is a Maple Leaf tradition for me to share my dear friend Cindy Harding's taco soup recipe. It's even better made the day before. Heat in the slow cooker while you are out and about enjoying the day. I like to serve it with cornbread.

If you use spicy sausage for the zuppa, you may want to omit the red pepper flakes. Even those who dislike kale usually love this one.

Happy Maple Leaf, and happy eating.

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Taco soup

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
  • 1 can corn niblets
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 envelope ranch dressing mix
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cans pinto beans

Brown beef in large pot or Dutch oven; drain. Combine all ingredients in large pot. Simmer 30 minutes. Yields 8 to 10 servings.

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One-pot zuppa toscana

  • 1 pound mild or spicy sausage
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounces chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage in large pot or Dutch oven. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside.

Cook bacon in same pot until crispy. Add onion; cook until translucent. Add garlic. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth, water, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add potatoes and sausage.

Bring to simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add kale; simmer 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and heat through. Serve with sprinkling of cheese. Yields 8 servings.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.