Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Minestrone Soup


I come from a large family of soup lovers. We eat soup 24/7: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. My family makes a delicious variety from green bean soup, carrot soup, kidney bean soup, Caldo Verde soup (Portuguese kale soup), and of course your traditional chicken soup. No matter what occasion, we always have one of these delicious soups served at every family get together.

My grandmother, mom, and aunts are usually gathered in the kitchen putting the last minute touches on our meal. The large pot of soup sitting on the stove top, cooking at a subtle simmer, adding a pleasant fragrance to the house. Each of them giving it a taste, adding a dash of salt or vinegar here and there. They all seem to have this special touch to making each pot just as delicious as the next.

I was intimidated to learn how to make the soups they've mastered over all of these years. They make it look so easy... but I knew there's a finesse that develops with time that I was afraid I would never learn. It was only a matter of time before I got over my nerves and gave it a shot. I mean, my Aunt Minia gave me a hand blender and soup pot as a gift... so I guess I was destined to become a part of their soup making team! I haven't reached that status yet, but am making baby steps and hope to reach it one day :)

This week I made one of my mom's favorite soups: Minestrone Soup. In my opinion, it's one of the easiest out of all of our family soup recipes to make. It's SO healthy and SO good for you... it's strictly made with fresh vegetables and beans. How much healthier can you get?!

There's a lot of room to improvise with this recipe too... any combination of vegetables and beans will do. Whatever you have on hand can be thrown into a pot to create this warm and hearty soup. The only ingredients that can't be skipped are the onions, garlic, and tomatoes, which serve as the base of your broth. While the added diced veggies and canned beans can be left up to you!

Here's how to make our family Minestrone Soup recipe:

Finely dice one onion and mince one large garlic clove. Saute with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot until the onions are clear and cooked through. About 10 minutes:


Add 10 cups of water. Water can be substituted with chicken stock if you prefer:


Add one large can of tomatoes. Any canned tomato will do, such as plum, diced, or stewed:


Bring the water to a boil on high heat, then lower the temperature to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.With a hand blender, blend the broth until the onions and garlic have been pureed and are no longer visible. You can puree some of the tomatoes as well, but it is best to keep a few chunky and not completely blended. If you don't have a hand blender, you can buy one for about $25 anywhere- it's the best tool to making a smooth broth.


Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Rinse the canned beans and set aside. Wash and dice the celery and carrots. Wash and slice the zuchinni into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut them in half to make half moon shapes:


Put all of your vegetables and beans into the pot:


Add the salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme, sage, 2 bay leaves and a few dashes of tabasco sauce or 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar:


Bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer on low heat for 2-4 hours. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will blend:


20 minutes before you're ready to serve, rinse and roughly chop 3 cups of spinach. Add the spinach and 2 whole tomatoes, stems removed, to the pot. The tomatoes will break down in the hot broth, adding additional flavor and color to your soup. Also add about 3 tablespoons of very small pasta or more if desired. Add additional salt and tabasco sauce or vinegar to taste. Continue to cook for 20 minutes and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese:


Enjoy!


Homemade Minestrone Soup
Family Recipe
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large 16 oz can of tomatoes
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 yellow zuchinni, sliced and halved
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of chick peas
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
tabasco sauce or 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3 cups of spinach, roughly chopped
2 fresh tomatoes
small pasta

Directions
Finely dice one onion and mince one large garlic clove. Put into a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute on medium/high heat until the onions are clear and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add 10 cups of water or chicken stock. Add one large can of plum tomatoes. Any tomato will do, such as diced or stewed. Bring the water to a boil on high heat, then lower the temperature to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Then with a hand blender, blend the broth until the onions and garlic have been pureed and are no longer visible. You should puree the tomatoes a little to try and break them up, but keep them chunky and not completely blended.

Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Rinse the canned beans and set aside. Wash and dice the celery and carrots. Wash and slice the zuchinni into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut them in half to make half moon shapes. Once your vegetables have been prepped, add them to the pot. Season your broth with the salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, sage, 2 bay leaves and a few dashes of tabasco sauce. Bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer on low heat for 2-4 hours. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will blend. This soup is even better the next day.

20 minutes before you're ready to serve, rinse and roughly chop 3 cups of spinach. Add the spinach and 2 whole tomatoes (stems removed) to your pot of soup. The tomatoes will break down in the hot broth, adding additional flavor and color to your soup. Also add your pasta at this time, about 3 tablespoons or 1/4 cup if you prefer a thicker soup. At this time, adjust the seasoning to your desired taste, adding additional salt and tabasco sauce. Continue to cook for 20 minutes and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
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5 comments:

  1. its incredible how easy it is to make that soup! next recipe...spinach soup - my favorite!!! :) a great recipe, fantastic description :)

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  2. Looks great, Chels. Loving every recipe!

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  3. mmmmm, this looks incredible and definitely makes me miss home!

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  4. Chels, What's your secret to the perfectly chopped veggies?

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  5. Great questions Lindz!

    A good tip would be not to rush... keep your hand steady, rocking your knife up and down, slightly pushing your veggie underneath the blade (watching your fingers of course!)... you'll find a rhythm and before you know it your veggies will look uniform! Hope that helps!

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