Workday lunch, served with a side of cranky

Sausage and White Bean Soup

It’s been busy.  July was my turn to run the Same Day Sick Clinic, which is always a … “fun” time.
In case you can’t tell by my tone, I’m not a big fan of Same Day Sick.  I get that it’s important, and there are times when you see someone who is truly sick that would be even sicker if they didn’t come to you when they did.   I just don’t like it.
I went into primary care because I like long term care.  I like seeing the same patients back, which you rarely get for SDS clinic.  Most of the patients who come in for SDS clinic are the same people who will blurt out, as soon as you enter the room, “I rarely go to the doctor, in fact, I HATE the doctors office.”  (Gee, thanks for letting me know. )  And there’s something about being MILDLY sick that makes people inordinately difficult to be around.  Suddenly a 5 minute wait is too long, they must get better NOW NOW NOW, the slightest disagreement with their self-diagnosis is an affront to their entire family….ugh.  I just honestly do not enjoy it, all the arguing and the crankiness, and anger.  And probably 80% of the people who come in would, in all honesty, get better on their own.  Not every sore throat is strep, and not every cough is pneumonia.  Antibiotics are not the cure-all, and not giving them out to all comers is not necessarily malpractice.  (I’m looking at you, the lady who threatened to sue me for not giving you antibiotics for your cold that’s lasted a whole 24 hours.  Jeebus.)   I’m glad for the people who WERE sick that I was able to help, but most of the day was just seeing one cold after another.  After 5 or 6 people with runny noses, they all kind of start to blur together.
But the one thing that irritates me the most is the patient who asks you angrily (usually after you’ve refused to give them antibiotics for their viral cold), “Doctor, do you have ANY idea how hard it is to go to work when you’re sick?!?”
Well, now, let’s see.
Since it’s almost impossible to find someone to see your patients for you when you call out sick without royally screwing one of your co-residents over, it’s often times easier to just suck it up and go into work.  I’ve been to work with bad colds and bronchitis.  I’ve been to work with fevers and chills.  I’ve been ON CALL with fevers and chills…I just sat in the ER with 2 blankets wrapped around my head and shoulders.  I’ve been to work while nauseated, and have had to excuse myself out of patients’ rooms in order to run to the bathroom and hurl.  I’ve been to work after having gotten 2 hours of sleep the night before because I was on call and the answering service was paging me once an hour.  So…you tell me, do you think I have *some* idea of what it’s like to go to work sick?
Anyway, the upshot of all this is that you’re in the clinic a lot.  And while there are a lot of places around our office to eat, it can sometimes take too long and get too expensive.  So I brought soup to work with me.  Yes, soup, even in July.  I like soup….what of it?
Except…I didn’t love THIS soup.  It’s good, and it’s tasty, and it’s quick, and it’s easy, and it smells good.  It just didn’t quite hit some poorly-defined spot in my stomach, I guess.  I really like pureed soups, but I guess I’m not as crazy about soups with clearly defined “bits” in them.  Or maybe I was just in a foul mood all month and NOTHING would have hit the spot.
At least it’s over, and I can go back to seeing my regular patients again.  So for the next person who asks me why I don’t get out of primary care and do Urgent Care, or run a Minute Clinic, or ask me if I’m sorry I’m not in Emergency Medicine?….read this post, and you’ll have your answer.
Sausage and White Bean Soup

I adapted this soup from Shutterbean’s amazing website.  She had adapted it from an Everyday Food recipe, and improved it (in my opinion).  While I don’t share her enthusiasm for it, it IS a good soup that was quick, easy, and had minimal cleanup.

12 ounces Italian sausage (sweet or hot, your choice)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

16 oz. frozen spinach

30 oz. canned navy or cannellini beans

32 oz . chicken stock



Large pinch of crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Heat the olive oil in a big pot.  Take the sausage out of the casings and break off meatball-sized lumps, and then drop them into the oil.  Let them brown a little on all sides for a few minutes.

2. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the browned sausage.  Cook until the onion is softened.

3. Once the onion is soft and there are no pink spots on the sausage meatballs, add the beans, spinach (no need to defrost or drain!), and chicken stock.  Add salt, pepper, and the red pepper.

4. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

5. Take the soup off the heat.  Stir in the red wine vinegar.  Serve with bread and crackers, preferably eat it while hunched over a computer trying to finish your charts from the morning session.


Cost: $ to $$.  It depends on how much you’re willing to pay for sausage, but the other ingredients are pretty much dirt cheap.

Active time: 20 to 30 minutes, with another 20 to 30 minutes of inactive time.

Cleanup: A cutting board.  It’s a one pot meal.


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