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

Roast Chicken Salad with Feta

I roasted a chicken in the “cool” of the morning today and put this together for lunch.

Look yummy?

It was!

Chicken, avocado, tomato, feta, spinach, bacon and a few other odd and ends made up this healthy, tasty, warm summer salad. It was only warm because the chicken was less than an hour out of the oven, but it would be just as good if I’d pulled the chicken out of the fridge to build this.

Starting at the bottom of the bowl, here’s what’s in it.

  • 1 roast chicken thigh
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 sliced green onion
  • 1 handful torn spinach
  • 1–2 T Athenos Feta
  • 1 slice crispy bacon, crumbled
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Here’s the meat from one cooked chicken thigh.
Add about a half a tomato, diced, and half an avocado, sliced and fanned out.
Next add slices of a green onion and a handful of torn spinach.
Feta and crispy bacon make up the next layer.
Sweet and spicy vinaigrette.

I made the dressing in a recycled pimiento jar. It’s the small jar, the two ounce size I think.

Pour fruit vinegar into small jar with tight fitting lid. I used homemade Cranapple Cider Vinegar. (The red layer in the middle.)
Add an equal amount of olive oil. (Top layer.)
Next add about a teaspoon (or so) of honey mustard, and about a tablespoon of honey. (The botttom layer.)
1/2 teaspoon your favorite herb/s, finely ground.

Tightly cap the jar and shake well. I used about 1/2 of it on this salad. The other half will go on another salad in a couple of days.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Brown Bag Salad

One Brown Bag Salad
When I want something healthy for lunch and end up grabbing a salad from a fast food place I’m always disappointed. The lettuce is mostly spine and rusty on the edges, carrots are pale and dried, and there are usually only 4-5 ingredients.  The tiny cubed croutons are prepackaged and practically melt in my mouth. The dressing is also prepackaged and no matter what flavor I get, too middle-of-the-road for my taste.  And after all that it’s also way more expensive than I could have made at home.
I’m sure everyone would agree a salad is best when made with bright fresh crunchy vegetables with a variety of colors, flavors and textures. Here’s the version I had for lunch today.
 3 leaves of romaine lettuce
8-10 large leaves of spinach
1 inch of zucchini
1 carrot
3-4 red radishes
3-4 button mushrooms
3-4 green onions
1-2 T Craisins
1 T slivered almonds
3/8″ slice feta cheese
6-8 large crunchy homemade croutons
Janz Cranberry Honey Mustard Dressing*
I assembled this last night in a to-go salad bowl I saved from a store-bought salad. 
First a pile of torn romaine and spinach. I used a potato peeler to make paper-thin slices of zucchini, carrot and radishes. I sliced the mushrooms almost as thin. Next came green onions and almonds. Then I put the lid on it and put it in the fridge. 
This morning I added a thick slice of feta cheese and the craisins. I packed it with a separate bag of croutons and my own salad dressing. When I was ready to eat, I crumbled the feta, added croutons and poured on the dressing. 
I tossed it with the fork as I ate. The paper-thin slices of veggies are great for stabbing a and getting lots of variety in every bite. The craisins can soak up moisture and turn back into cranberries if I add them too soon which I why I add them at the last minute. 
*The dressing was made in an almost empty bottle of Cranberry Honey Mustard. I added some red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, a little garlic, and voila!
Larrupin!

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Salad | , , | Leave a comment

NHS Band Teacher Appreciation Salad

Janz Salad Basics

  • Green Leafy Stuff
  • Romaine
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Italian Parsley
  • Bright Stuff
    • Red Pepper
    • Purple Onion
    • Red Cabbage
    • Strawberries
  • Other Stuff
    • Mushrooms
    • Feta Cheese
    • Hard Cheese Mix (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago)
  • Garnishes
    • Almonds
    • Sunflower Seeds
    • Homemade Croutons

    To Assemble:

    1. Tear all green leafy stuff (lettuce, cilantro, parsley) put in a salad bowl.
    2. Slice cabbage, dice pepper, slice mushrooms and strawberries and crumbled Feta cheese into the salad.
    3. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds & slivered almonds.
    4. Break thick dry toasted seasoned French bread into bite-size croutons.
    5. Drizzle with with vinaigrette and toss.

    Janz Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

    1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2. Balsamic Vinegar
    3. Honey Mustard
    4. Honey
    5. Janz Seasoning Blend
    6. Pepper
    7. Tabasco

    This is one variation of Janz Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette. I use the small jar in the photo to mix my dressings.

    • Start with about an inch of extra virgin olive oil
    • An inch of balsamic vinegar
    • A generous squeeze of honey mustard. Maybe a couple of teaspoons…
    • More honey, probably a tablespoon or so.
    • Add your favorite herbs, basil, oregano, garlic… ground herbs mix best
    • A splash of Tabasco

    Put the lid on tight and shake well. I always hold it inside the sink just in case I have a mismatched lid and it leaks. I’d rather not sling oil all over my clothes, it never happens, unless I’m dressed for work and don’t have time to change!

    As to “your favorite herbs…” I’ve come up with my own blend of favorites that I call Janz Seasoning Blend. This is something I mix up every few months and use it in almost everything. It started out as equal parts of ground basil, oregano and garlic powder and now the ingredient list is as more or less follows: basil oregano, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, onion powder, garlic powder, and marjoram. I usually use dried herbs and when I get it mixed and it smells right, I grind it into a very fine powder. I have a clean coffee grinder I use just for grinding herbs.

    The fine powder seems to readily dissolve into a salad dressing. I also use it as seasoning for croutons. Before I came up with this seasoning concoction, I flavored homemade vinaigrette with basil, oregano, thyme… whatever herbs seemed to be right at the time. Let your taste buds be your guide if you don’t have a favorite herb blend. Any leftover dressing can be refrigerated for your next salad.

    May 20, 2008 Posted by | Salad | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

       

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