Thursday, April 26, 2012

Minestrone Soup

It has not been a particularly cold winter in Chicago this year.  And we haven't had any Chicago style snow.  I know what you are thinking -- I am cursing all of Chicago to some ugly snow drifts. I am not trying to do that; I am just letting you in on my thought process.  So even though it has not been very soupy outside -- my family was still feeling soup weatherish. I had never made minestrone soup.  I know what you are thinking -- crazy isn't it?  An Italian girl who likes to cook who has never made minestrone soup -- it is odd.  So I thought I would give it a try.  Here is my first attempt at the Italian classic.

Minestrone Soup

4 strips of bacon, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrots, finely chopped
2-3 carrots cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
olive oil
1 box of chicken stock (low sodium)
8 cups of water
6 bullion cubes
2 potatoes cut into chucks
one half of a cabbage cut into bite sized pieces
1 bag of fresh baby spinach/ or 1 bunch of Swiss chard
2 zucchini cut into chunks
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind (this is not needed, but adds a great saltiness to the background)
salt and pepper
2-3 bay leaves
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (one can mashed into a paste)
digitali pasta noodles

Heat a large stockpot, render the fat from the chopped bacon.  When bacon is crispy, add onions, carrots, celery, and some olive oil.  Once veggies are soften, add garlic and let flavors combine for one minute. Then add box of chicken stock, water, bullion, and bay leaves. Add in the rest of the veggies: potatoes, cabbage, spinach/or Swiss chard, zucchini, tomatoes, and one can of beans (mashed with a fork to a thick paste). Salt and pepper to taste.  Add cheese rind if you have one. After about one hour the veggies should be cooked, now it is time to cook the pasta.  Add digitali or any short pasta and cook for the amount of time designated on the box.  Once pasta is cooked, add the second can of drained and rinsed beans to the soup. It is ready to serve.

I have to say that it turned out so well that my husband made me write the recipe down while we were still sitting at the table eating dinner.  He didn't want it to become another one of my "lost meals."  A "lost meal" is a meal I created and didn't write the recipe down, so I cannot recreated it perfectly.  He knows if I didn't write it down then and there, he might never have that version of the soup again.  It has happened to him too often, so now he makes me write recipes down before they become lost too.

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