Friday, December 21, 2012
Minestrone- THE Italian Vegetable Soup
The Queen of vegetable soups, minestrone is a perfect hearty winter soup (or summer soup, just change up the vegetables). Cutting up the vegetables may take a little time, but after that, it's quick and easy. And, I have a little secret- add another great layer of flavour to your soup by throwing in a parmesan cheese rind. After grating the parmesan, just freeze the rinds for your future minestrone.
This recipe serves six to eight as a main course.
1 large leek, cleaned, light part sliced thinly crosswise (approx. 1/4 cup)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped small
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped small
2 stalks of celery, chopped small
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into small (1/2-inch) dice (approx. 1 1/4 cups)
1 medium zucchini, chopped medium (approx. 3/4 cup)
1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets (approx. 3/4 cup)
fresh green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (approx. 1/2 cup)
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, cut into thin slivers
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
8 cups water
1 Parmesan cheese rind, approx. 5 inches long
2 cups cooked white or red kidney bean (or 1 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup pesto
Bring the vegetables, tomatoes, water, cheese rind and salt to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender - don't overcook., about one hour. Remove the cheese rind and discard.
Add the beans and cook just until heated through. Remove from heat and add the pesto. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. When serving the soup, sprinkle on a little freshly grated parmesan cheese.
If freezing the soup, let it cool to room temperature for about 45 minutes. Divide into freezer bags (leave them open and store "standing up" in a larger container) and refrigerate until completely cooled. Seal the bags and stack in the freezer. Label your bags. When ready to cook, thaw bag in the refrigerator overnight and simmer the soup slowly on the stove top.
While the onions, carrots, leeks and celery are basic vegetables for the minestrone, you can substitute the other vegetables with: kale (mixed with spinach), frozen peas, butternut squash, a few halved brussel sprouts.
Add pasta or rice, just before adding the beans, throw in 1/2 cup of arborio rice or small pasta.
Beans- instead of kidney beans, you could use chickpeas.