"There is nothing like soup. It is nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup from a can." ~Laurie Colwin
Sorry, I haven't been blogging much lately. Fall is my favorite time to be out and about and I've been dining out with friends a lot. I did make a big batch of minestrone last week though! I gave a few jars to friends and then the kidlets and I scarfed down the rest over at Mr.S.'s casa.
I love minestrone, it's warm and filling but doesn't weigh you down... a perfect source of sustenance for a chilly autumn or winter night. Not to mention, it's a super easy way to get the kidlets to eat an entire bowl of veggies with no fuss! Now I'm a die hard fan of the minestrone recipe from Nick's an Italian café in McMinnville, Oregon (my mom and Nick are friends, from back in her Japan days)- it's a fantastic recipe and I made it for ages, but these days I make a version that's nice and hearty and chock full of my favorite veggies. I like using a beef broth as my base and adding a handful of ditalini pasta to the mix...oh, and don't forget to throw in a Parmesan rind! That's what infuses your soup with flavor and there's nothing better than eating that ooey-gooey rind at the end.
Hearty Home-style Minestrone
4 oz. salt pork, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 small onions, peeled and chopped
1 leek: white and light green parts only (split in half, rinsed well and sliced thinly)
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper: cored, seeded, chopped
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 large carrots: peeled, trimmed and chopped
2 white potatoes, cut into chunks
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste
5 cups of beef broth
1 Parmesan rind
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 can (15 oz.) of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (you can sub in Great Northern beans if you wish)
1 cup cooked ditalini
garlic salt and fresh ground pepper
grated Parmesan (optional)
1. In a large dutch oven, cook the salt pork for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add in your onion, leek, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until onions become translucent. Add in carrots, potatoes, parsley and mushrooms. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2. Add crushed tomatoes and concentrated tomato paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add beef broth and Parmesan rind and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to med-low. Add oregano, bay leaves and basil. Cover and let it gently simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
3. Add 1 cup of peas, 1 can of cannellini beans and 1 cup of cooked ditalini. Season to taste with garlic salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Remove bay leaves before serving.
5. Serve with grated Parmesan and a few slices of crusty peasant bread.
* Tip if you plan to freeze the soup, leave the pasta out (it gets soggy). Just boil some up and add it when you're ready to eat the soup.