With fall’s official arrival last Friday, we can stop talking now about the snow that fell in the high country while it was still summer.

Next up will be the countdown to the white stuff in the lower elevations, which always doesn’t wait until “winter” here.

Cooler evenings and earlier darkness means staying in, cooking in, eating in for many folks.

And homemade soup is a great way to do that.

This starts to finish in 30 minutes and is a copycat restaurant recipe.

Cooking at home means altering the ingredients to your preference or what keeps you from making a special trip to the store. In this case, that would be the kind of meat you use, the kind of pasta you have in the pantry, and the green leafy vegetable that you find in the back of your produce crisper. If there is none there, frozen spinach is a fine alternative.

Serve this with a salad and hearty, crusty bread so that the broth in the bottom of the bowl doesn’t go to waste.

At the homestead, we’re still in the save cash, eat what we have mode. Recently, that was a five-ingredient Taco Hand Pie, with crescent roll dough shaped in the form of a sunburst with points out and heaping taco-seasoned ground beef in the middle where the wide part of the roll dough came together. I topped the ground beef with shredded cheese, folded the dough points over the filling and tucked them underneath. Unlike some wreath appetizers you may have seen made this way, this looked like a filled round load of bread. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes and it came out golden brown and delicious. I diced a roma tomato for garnish, cut it into four triangles, and served it with salsa for dipping. Tasty and could not have been easier.

Here’s to fall. I’m already well into pumpkin spice coffee creamer and pumpkin spice breakfast cereal. All of you haters can hate, as for me, I’m loving it.

Pasta Fagioli Soup

½ pound Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed, crumbled

1 small onion, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons canola oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups water

1 can (15 ½ ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (14 ½ ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth

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cup uncooked elbow macaroni

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, cut into strips

5 teaspoons shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain and set aside. In the same pan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; saute 1 minute longer.

Add the water, beans, tomatoes, broth, macaroni and pepper; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until macaroni is tender.

Reduce heat to low; stir in sausage and spinach. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Garnish with cheese. Serves 5.

Recipe courtesy of “Easy Weeknight Dinners”

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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