Larrupin

Uncommonly Good

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

I came across a Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup in an email today, and since I had a zucchini in the fridge I decided I needed to make it for lunch.

So I did.

Italian Vegetable Soup in Larrupin

I pinned it, and then printed the recipe. I made a few changes off the top, mostly to the sequence of events, and switched out the broth, the beans and the tomato products. My recipe—with the changes—is below.

I started with this deep cast iron skillet acquired at a garage sale. Paid a whopping $5 for the rusty old thing. The size is midway between a skillet and a Dutch Oven. I cleaned it up and this is my first time to use it.

Should have taken a “before” picture! It was a mess.

Iron Skillet, Flea Market Find

Ain’t it purty? Cleaned up right nice, din’t it?

Beautiful seasoning! This is what a well-seasoned iron skillet is supposed to look like! My plan was to resell it because it was so gross I didn’t know if I could get it all the way back. But I might be in love. Even though it’s a no-name skillet, it will do the job.

Celery and onion went in first.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

I always chop the onion last, just in case it makes me cry. When the onions and celery are soft and smelling good, I add the garlic. Garlic will burn if you cook it too long or if the heat is too high so I wait to add it just before the next step.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

I added the carrots here because I’m not a fan of soggy cooked carrots. Adding them now means they still have some crunch when the soup is done. If you like soft cooked carrots, you can put them in the pot at the beginning.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

This is where I added the dried oregano. I could have added it sooner, but I forgot. I like to stir it around and coat the veggies with it before adding the liquids.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I think the veggies take in more flavor when I do this instead of letting the herbs just swim around in the liquid later.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

Now I add the broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Then the zucchini—I don’t like soggy zucchini either—and the rosemary. I intended to drop in a sprig of fresh rosemary, which is why I didn’t put it in with the oregano, but instead of taking the time to go outside and snip some, I used what I had in the cabinet.

While I waited for everything to come to a boil, I built a salad.

Salad on Larrupin

A couple of handfuls of spring mix; two slices of seasoned, crispy, oven-baked French bread croutons, broken into pieces; a sprinkle of sunflower seeds; and some slivers of Parmesan. I dressed it with homemade vinaigrette: olive oil, cranberry vinegar (homemade), brown and spicy mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, garlic granules, and sugar).

When the soup came to a boil…

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

… I added the pasta.

Then I ate my salad.

Italian Vegetable Soup in Larrupin

When I finished the salad the pasta was done, and, as pasta does, it absorbed a lot of liquid. I added the beans with the liquid (again, I don’t like soggy, smushy beans) and filled the empty can with water to add to the soup. I didn’t want to dilute the flavor, so I sprinkled a teaspoon or so of chicken bouillon granules on top and stirred it into the mix.

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup on Larrupin

Salt and pepper to taste. I only added a smidge of salt but I gave it several good cranks of the pepper mill. I add pepper to practically everything.

Then I spooned it into my salad bowl. I used a wooden stirring spoon so I didn’t get a lot of liquid. I gave it a good splash of Tabasco and  garnished with slivers of cheese. I used a potato peeler.

It was larrupin!

Italian Vegeable Soup on Larrupin

Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup

It was 1 hour and 4 minutes from the first picture to the last. The original recipe said 30 minutes, 10 for prep and 20 to cook, but I couldn’t do it that fast unless I had help chopping the vegetables.

This would make a yummy brown bag lunch with a salad, and it will freeze well for leftovers. Leftovers and freezing are two more reasons I don’t overcook the veggies.

1.

3 large stalks Chopped Celery In Dutch oven, sauté onion and celery in oil.

2.

1 medium/smallish Chopped Onion

3.

2–3 Tbsp Olive oil

4.

2–3 Garlic Cloves Minced garlic Add garlic to sauté.

5.

1–2 tsp Dried oregano Season with dried herbs, stir to coat veggies.

6.

2–3 carrots Chunky chopped carrots Add carrots.

7.

1 32 oz box Swanson’s Chicken Broth Pour in broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.

8.

1 14.5 oz can Crushed tomatoes

9.

1 8 oz. Tomato sauce

10.

1–2  stems Fresh rosemary Add rosemary and zucchini. Bring to a boil.

11.

1 small zucchini Thick sliced zucchini

12.

2 cups Uncooked pasta Add pasta. Stir. Cook al dente.

Eat your salad while the pasta cooks.

13.

1× 15.5 oz can Great northern beans Add beans and liquid.

14.

1 15 oz. can Water Use the empty bean can to add water.

15.

1–2 tsp. Wyler’s Chicken Bouillon Granules Sprinkle on top. Stir.
To taste Salt & Pepper

Finish eating your salad and then ladle the soup into your salad bowl.

Garnish Parmesan Cheese
Optional Tabasco Sauce

 

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December 6, 2012 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad, Soup | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Tuna Sandwich

Tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, ready for the sandwich.

I know fish is good for your heart, and as hard as I try, I don’t get it into my diet as often as I should. But tuna is easy, so I add it to the menu when I think of it.

I make tuna salad with a recipe similar to most, but of course it depends on what I have in the fridge at the time.

One essential is celery, gotta have the crunch. This time I used bread and butter pickles, a few green onions, and mayonnaise. I had pickled peppers, tomatoes, a few almond slivers and lettuce on the side for building the sandwich.

Tuna Sandwich

Tuna Sandwich

I only used half the tuna today, so tomorrow I’ll make a green salad and add the tuna on top. One of my pet peeves is forgetting it’s in the fridge and having to throw it out, so I try to use it within a day or two.

What’s your favorite way to make tuna salad? Any favorite ingredients you can’t live without?

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Sandwich | , , , , | Leave a comment

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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