Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Classic Minestrone: Possibly the Easiest & Cheapest Soup You Can Make

When I was a kid, my mom would always make a nice, hot dinner -- usually soup -- on Halloween night before we headed out for trick-or-treating.  As I made soup last night, I couldn't help but think that I should have postponed making it and continue the tradition.  Looks like I'll just have to make a different recipe. Even though it wasn't Halloween night, last night was a perfect soup night since got a few inches of snow. If that doesn't call for a hot bowl of soup, I don't know what does.

Anyway, I made, as the title suggests, one of the easiest and cheapest soups you can make: minestrone. All you need are a few vegetables you probably already have in your refrigerator's crisper and a couple items from your pantry. This recipe is delicious and so healthy since the broth is so light and it's bursting with vegetables and beans.

 Here's the recipe I follow, based on the recipe I got from Everyday Food magazine.

Simple, Delicious, Classic Minestrone
serves 6

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp. dried
(Note: I didn't have any rosemary on hand last night, so I subbed it with a 1/4 tsp. of Italian seasoning. Did the trick nicely.)
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 oz.) of diced tomatoes, drained (I used a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and it added a nice flavor.)
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/4 head of green cabbage (about 1/2 pound), cored and thinly sliced
1 can of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths (I used my frozen ones from my garden!)
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium.  Add onion, carrots, celery, red pepper flakes, rosemary (or Italian seasoning), 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to turn golden (about 5-ish minutes). If you want to feel extra cultured, you can call the onion, carrots, and celery soffritto, the Italian culinary term for onions, carrots, and celery cooked in olive oil. Makes the soup seem more fancy, if you ask me.

Next, add the tomatoes and cook for about a minute.  Add potato, cabbage, beans, and 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Stir in green beans. Reduce to a simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and add extra seasoning, if necessary. If you're using the basil and garlic, add it now.

And that's it. In about 45 minutes or so, you can have a delicious, homemade pot of soup. I forgot to add it last night, but you can sprinkle it with some parmesan cheese when you serve the soup. I didn't, however, forget to make some popovers to go with the soup -- an easy, cheap, and yummy accompaniment.  Another great thing about this soup is that it freezes well. This is important because my husband and I and our 4-year-old definitely can't eat an entire pot of this soup, no matter how good it is.  Last night, as I was cleaning up, I put the extra soup we had in some quart-sized Mason jars and now they're in the freezer, ready to be reheated and enjoyed on another cold, snowy evening.


Nisha said...

I love Minestrone Soup because it's so versatile. When I have a lot of random small bits of veggies that need to be used, I can always count on them turning out in a Minestrone.

I hadn't thought to add Cannelloni beans though! Thanks for the recipe :)

Tara said...

Sounds YUMMY! And the next time you make popovers, can I come over and watch? I tried your recipe and mine DID NOT WORK! Don't know what I did wrong. =(

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