Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Winter Minestrone

This makes a fairly massive pot of soup. That's the trouble with soup; you put in a little of this and a little of that and the next thing you know you have a vat full. You might want to keep the noodles separate, and divide up the soup into 2 or 3 portions, adding noodles only as you get to each portion. That way they don't turn into huge, bloated whale-noodles before you can finish the soup. Also, I find that as the noodles expand, I have to keep adding more liquid to keep it soup, rather than sludge. Better to put them in in stages.

Parmesan cheese rinds: you do keep 'em, don't you? Whenever I buy a new piece of Parmesan I cut off the rinds and put them (well wrapped) in the freezer. That makes the rest of the Parmesan easier to deal with, and then the rinds are also handy for making soup. Think of them as a kind of vegetarian soup-bone. Also, it's hard to give quantities as it all depends on how large your piece of Parmesan was, but in general, you want several good-sized pieces. Cooking makes the rinds softer and more cheese-like, but by the time the soup is done they have been leached of flavour and they are just tasteless globs of fatty calories - I toss them.

10 to 16 servings
1 1/2 hours prep time, about, not including the overnight soak

Winter Minestrone
Cook the Beans:
1 cup dry red kidney or pinto beans
4 cups diced or crushed tomatoes
2 or 3 bay leaves
the rind from a chunk of Parmesan cheese

Put yer beans in a large pot and cover them generously with water. Bring them to a boil, then turn them off and let them soak, covered, overnight. Drain them, and cover them with water again. Bring to a boil again and simmer until about half cooked.

At this point, drain the beans, keeping the cooking liquid. Add fresh water to the cooking liquid to make 8 cups, (or discard some, ditto, if it's more than 8 cups) and return it to the pot with the beans. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and cheese rinds, and simmer until the beans are tender. Meanwhile...

Sauté Some Veggies:
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons sunflower seed or extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rubbed basil
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano

Peel and chop the onion. Clean, trim and chop the celery. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion and celery gently until soft and showing signs of browning slightly. Add the garlic and herbs and sauté for just a minute or two more, until very fragrant. Add all this to the soup.

The Final Ingredients:
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 large potato
1 large carrot
2 cups chopped green or savoy cabbage
250 grams (8 ounces) noodles or small pasta shapes

Put the water and salt on to boil in a good-sized pot. Scrub the potato, and peel the carrot. Cut them both into small dice. Chop the cabbage, discarding any large tough stem pieces.

When the water boils, add the noodles, potato and carrot, and boil about 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and boil 2 or 3 minutes more. Add this mixure - which should be rather underdone - to the soup including the water, and simmer the soup gently for a further 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove and discard the cheese rinds and bay leaves before serving. You are now souped for the next week. Yes, you can freeze some, but see my suggestion about leaving out the noodles and adding them as wanted.

Last year at this time I made Apple Butter Spare Ribs.

1 comment:

Joanne said...

All of the good stuff in here makes for such a delicious and hearty soup. Even if it does amount to enough to feed an army!