Friday, October 14, 2011

Minestrone Soup



Minestrone... One of my Italian favorites... A starter I almost never miss when I see it on the menu of a restaurant... I did not grow up eating minestrone, but to me, this soup is as heartwarming and fulfilling as any traditional soup I grew up eating... And it puts together all the ingredients that are good for you.

But lately it seems to me like the minestrone soups I try at restaurants do not taste like they used to 10-15 years ago... Well, maybe it's just me... Nevertheless, I decided to create my own at home...


Ingredients: (Serves 8)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup potatoes, diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cups chicken/beef/vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 zucchini, peeled and cubed (makes about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced (or diced canned tomatoes, not drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups cut cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cups cut green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup mini dry pasta (like ditalini, elbow macaroni etc.)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed


Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and potatoes and saute until onion is soft and the veggies are translucent. Add garlic and saute until it's fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste, basil, black pepper, salt and the stock (add the stock gradually and mix to dissolve the paste in the stock).
  • Add the tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, green peas and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low (or medium - depending on the burner) and simmer until all the vegetables are almost fork-tender.
  • Add the pasta and the parsley, increase the heat to medium-high and boil the soup until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes (this cooking time depends on which type of pasta is being used).
  • Reduce the heat and add the beans. Just heat through for a few minutes and remove from the heat.

Additional points:

  • You can add other vegetables that you like to this soup, like cabbage, broccoli, spinach etc. (Try to use 6 cups of veggies as a total - excluding onion and garlic) The key here is to cook all the vegetables to the same doneness, so that they are soft, but not falling apart or cooked to death, that they still have a bite to them, but do not taste crunchy and raw. And that's why you may need to add different vegetables at different points during the cooking process, adjust the heat and check on their doneness frequently.
  • Each ingredient in this soup should have a presence, but no disturbing abundance..:) That's why you can play with the above given amounts of vegetables, pasta and beans to your liking. Some people may like a more watery soup w/ fewer ingredients, while others prefer a stew-like soup.
  • Salt amount is up to your taste and health issues. The stocks I use usually have enough salt in them, so I personally do not need to add more salt.

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