This past week has been “sick week” at my house – not the flu, but a wearying upper respiratory virus that makes you feel bedraggled by mid-day. To top it off, the congestion was messing up my head functions, so I couldn’t taste or smell anything! Still, tired or not, we needed to eat something good and healthful, so I got out the soup pot and put together something that, even if I couldn’t taste it, would be nutritious and warming.

I had a 2-lb. package of Smithfield’s Anytime sliced smoked ham, which for a southern girl is like manna from heaven. I used half of it to make a minestrone-inspired, but Southern-style ham and vegetable soup. Besides the great-tasting smoked ham, the soup’s flavor is built up with aromatic onion, celery, and carrot, plus red and green bell peppers, garlic, paprika, and chopped spinach. If I had had some frozen sliced okra, I would have used that too! I included a cup of leftover cooked macaroni to add some heft, and also because I have read that the chemical process that happens with leftover pasta can reduce the digestible carbohydrates by about 50%.

I felt a little uncertain as I was cooking it, because I really couldn’t smell any aroma with my non-functioning nose. (How many other cooks use their sense of smell to make sure a dish is right?) My husband came home as I was cooking and said he could smell something tantalizing before he even opened the front door. Then my daughter, who always saves room for dessert, surprised me by helping herself to a second bowl. So I think it was a good result but I have to go by their reactions – because although I ate a big bowl that night and the next, I cannot honestly say that I tasted it!