Sunday, March 21, 2010

minestrone soup

I woke up at 3am this morning. I lay in bed, knowing I should be sleeping, but unable to turn off my suddenly wide awake mind. So I started thinking about what to make for dinner. Yep, I'm totally serious. I thought through the contents in our fridge and pantry, I thought through what could be added via a trip to the grocery store. What to make, what to make...I finally landed on minestrone soup. Sometime after that, my mind thankfully surrendered itself to dreams again.

Before titling this post minestrone, I did a bit of research to make sure the name would be appropriate. Minestrone is Italian for the big soup. It turns out that there is no set recipe; rather, the content varies across Italy and by season. It can have meat, but doesn't have to (my version is vegetarian). It can contain rice or pasta, but it isn't required (I didn't include any). And it's the perfect way to use up the myriad of veggies in my fridge.

I love recipes like this one, that can be modified based on the ingredients you have on hand. If you don't have everything listed below, don't worry about it - omitting an ingredient or two will still yield a tasty meal. If you have other things in mind that might go well, throw them in, too. Have fun with it! Here's the version we ate for dinner tonight:

Minestrone Soup with Parmesan Toasts
Serves 6ish

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 onion, diced
2 c. potatoes, diced
1-2 c. carrots, diced
1-2 c. celery, diced
1 tsp. dried or 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. dried or 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried or 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
1/2 c. red wine
1 can diced tomatoes (with juiced)
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch baby dino kale, chopped (or substitute 1 bunch regular dino kale, center rip removed and chopped)

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic. At this point, I started chopping my way through the vegetables in the order listed above, adding each to the pot as I was done chopping it, stirring occasionally. By the time you've added the last of the celery, the onion should be translucent, the other veggies are beginning to become tender, and the aroma of simmering veggies fills your house.

Add herbs and spices. Stir well to disperse through veggies. Cook an additional few minutes. Add broth, water, wine, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes (or longer, if you have more time and patience). Add beans and kale. Cook an additional 20 minutes.

Serve hot, topped with parmesan toast if desired (recipe below).

Parmesan Toasts:
olive oil
1 small baguette, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 clove garlic, halved
1/4 c. parmesan, finely grated

Heat oven to 375 degrees. brush baguette rounds with olive oil. Bake 5-7 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden. Once toasts have cooled enough to handle, rub with cut side of garlic. Sprinkle each toast with parmesan. Return to oven until parmesan begins to melt, 2-3 minutes.

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