Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

Snow Day Minestrone

Thursday, with an ice storm underway and the snow moving in, my daily Chow email came with a recipe for Minestrone.
Minestrone is a hearty Italian peasant soup, made with the vegetables of the season and it sounded perfect for Snow Day. (When the grown-ups have Snow Day it is an official designation and should be capitalized, unlike snow days when the schools close but most of the grown ups still have to work.)

I found there is no “original” recipe for minestrone, but the ingredients were determined by the season and region in which it was made. Minestrone can be a brothy soup with vegetables that still have some crunch to them; or it can be cooked for hours, breaking down all the vegetables into a thick medley of amazing flavors. This recipe leans toward the brothy version.

I skipped the butter in the original recipe and went with just olive oil. I found other recipes that started with diced bacon and then adding the vegetables to to bacon and drippings. I’ll try that next time. This is how my Snow Day Minestrone played out.
Prologue
Early in the day I put 1 cup dried Great Northern Beans (they were the only dried beans I happened to have) in a large saucepan, covered them with water, and brought it to a boil over high heat. Then I got the newspaper and settled down. About 30 minutes later I remembered the beans and ran to the kitchen in time to hear the sizzle of the last of the water evaporating. Fortunately, I caught them before they started to burn, so I refilled the pot and put them back on the stove. This time with low heat. I let them cook for another hour or so and when some were tender and others were still al dente I removed the pot from the heat. You can skip this step if you want to used canned beans.
Act One:  Saute
For the soup, I put my pot on the stove and turned the heat to medium. I tossed in the onions, celery, and red pepper with a splatter of olive oil.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper, tasting as you go. I let them soften and then added the garlic
and stirred it into the mixture for a minute or so. Next came the diced potato and carrot. I scraped the bottom of the pan to include all the good stuff that sticks to the bottom. When everything looked good I poured in the can of tomatoes and the juice and added the bay leaf. I let that cook together a couple of minutes.
Act Two: Simmer
I stirred in the liquid from the cooked beans. I added the green beans and liquid, half the zucchini, the peas and stirred occasionally until zucchini softened, about 10 minutes. Next came the broth, the pasta—I used small shell
macaroni— and half the parsley and let it simmer about 5–8 minutes.  Finally came the cooked beans, the leftover liquid, and the last of the zucchini. And just for fun I threw in a handful of alphabet pasta. The whole pot continued to simmer until the pasta was ready and the last of the zucchini still had a little crunch to it.

Epilogue: Serve

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining parsley, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with grated Parmesan, freshly ground pepper, and my personal favorite, Tabasco sauce. Garnish with crunchy garlic seasoned croutons.

The Players

1 cup dried Great Northern beans
2 T olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced and diced somewhat chunky
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small russet potato, medium dice
2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1 medium bay leaf
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
15 oz can green beans
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup small shell macaroni and 1/2 C alphabet pasta
1/2 C finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1/2 bunch)
Grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, for garnish
Garlic Seasoned Homemade Croutons

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Soup | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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