Easy Peasy Minestrone
My dear husband casually strolled into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and declared, "Why, it looks like a brand new refrigerator, absolutely empty!"
Oops, you see, since I've been blogging, I have not gone grocery shopping, exercising, or any of the things that require me to move out of my chair and away from the computer. That is not a 'good thing.' My husband has been existing on Cheerios and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, without a complaint.
I thought, don't push it. Its time to start cooking. What would he enjoy? Ah, a nice hearty, filling, satisfying bowl of soup would do the trick. Wanting to save my marriage of 52 years (you never can tell when it might go belly up, right?) I pulled myself away from the computer and went shopping. My goal: fill the refrigerator, the soup pot, and my husband's stomach.
I call this soup Easy Peasy Minestrone. It's adapted from Viana La Place & Evan Kleiman's recipe for Minestrone Leggera from Cucina Rustica, my niece Angela's vegetable soup, and creative additions from my life of cooking.
I like to add bits of Italy, such as a wedge of cheese. It actually should be the rind from a hunk of parmesan, but I didn't have a rind saved in the freezer. But, I did have a hunk of Parmesan Romano cheese in the fridge. Yes, it is from Costco. I also add a jar of my favorite bottled pasta sauce, Silver Palate's Vodka Elegante Sauce. I know, I know it's heretical, but I use it and it's delicious. Remember the name of this soup, Easy Peasy. So here we go.
Gather the ingredients together.
I love my large red Le Creuset Pot that I purchased on Ebay. Yes, Ebay, is another one of my obsessions.
Then I add about a quarter cup of olive oil, but you can add more or less to your taste. Next add two carrots trimmed and diced, two stalks of celery diced and five cloves of garlic peeled and minced. Add them all into the pot and let them cook using a medium temperature until wilted.
When softened add chopped parsley, thyme or basil, and tomatoes.
You can add two zucchini, or a half a head of cauliflower, whichever you prefer, or whatever is in your fridge. I always add half a cabbage.
Now you can either add a couple of quarts of water to keep it vegetarian, or do what I do which is to add two Swanson 32 oz. packages of chicken broth, plus about a half a jar of Silver Palate Vodka Elegante Sauce. Plus I add a 14 oz. can of White Beans and three red rose potatoes sliced. Then add the rind or chunk of Parmesan Romano cheese and 4 ounces of a small pasta. I prefer the shape of Ditali pasta. But you can break up spaghetti, or use any small pasta that you prefer.
Simmer all the ingredients together until the vegetables are cooked, approximately 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remember I mentioned my mother's cooking spoon? Well, there it is along with the finished pot of soup. Serving? After poring the soup into a bowl, I lightly dust the top with a grating of parmesan romano cheese, using my microplane grater. Oh, and sometimes I add a few of Trader Joe's Frozen Turkey Meatballs to the soup. Sliced or quartered, they make the soup even heartier. Man fare.
Since this is a huge pot of soup, when it cools, I pour it into individual containers and freeze them for a rainy day. That could be the next day if I don't have food in the house.
Now I'm going to show you something none of the beautiful food blogs show you: the aftermath cooking mess!
2 onions chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots diced
2 celery stalks diced
5 garlic cloves minced
A large handful of chopped parsley
10 basil leaves chopped or 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from the branches.
6-8 roma tomatoes or a can of chopped tomatoes
2 zucchini diced
1/2 head of cabbage or cauliflower
2 red rose potatoes sliced
1 14-oz can of white beans in their liquid
2 quarts of water or 2 32-ounce boxes of chicken broth
1/2 jar of Silver Palate Vodka Elegante sauce or what ever pasta sauce you have in the pantry
4 ounces of pasta: I prefer ditatli but you can use whatever you prefer.
a rind of Parmesan Romano cheese