Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday Food Post - Tuscan Minestrone


I made this for the first time on Friday, February 20th, 2015.  It had been bitterly cold, as it is now. That morning it was 9 degrees  Fahrenheit, definitely a day for a hot bowl of comforting soup for supper.  I found this recipe last year, put it on my 'to do' list, read that list out to Gregg and asked him which one he would like me to make.  He chose this.  You can find it at "Never Enough Thyme", link here.  Lana is its host.





Tuscan Minestrone


Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes

1 medium onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 lb. tender green beans, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 lb. small shell shaped pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Prepare all your ingredients.  I always find it helps to measure everything out ahead of time.  Peel and chop up your veggies and have it ready and waiting, measuring out the pasta and even opening up the cans.  I also grate the Parmesan cheese ahead of time and refrigerating until I am ready to put the meal together.


So, prepare the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, cabbage, parsley and basil and set aside.


In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.


Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.


Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is translucent.


Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.


Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, parsley, basil, Italian seasoning, bay leaf and if you are using it, the Parmesan rind.


Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.


Add the zucchini, garbanzo beans and green beans and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.


Remove and discard the bay leaf and Parmesan rind.


While the soup simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, and cook the pasta according to the package directions.


Drain.


Add the cooked pasta to the soup pot and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.


Serve immediately.


Pass the grated Parmesan separately.





What did we think of this soup?  It was great, though I did make a few changes.


I couldn't find any fresh sweet basil at the one supermarket we went to and frankly did not feel like hunting it down at another.  I had some dried basil in the pantry and used that instead.  I added a good heaping tablespoon.


I also had okra in the freezer and Gregg prefers it to the zucchini, so I substituted the okra.


The flavor of the broth was especially delicious and I am wondering if it was because of the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind that I used.  Lana mentioned that this was a great flavor enhancer.  You're supposed to throw it away like the bay leaf, but the slice I cut off was more cheese than rind.  I found what was left of it in the bottom of the pot, a small piece, and decided to see what it tasted like.  Oh my goodness, was it yummy, all melty and gooey but solid enough to scoop it up on a spoon.  


I will no longer be buying the tall round containers of already grated Parmesan, and am trying to cut out as many preservatives out of our lives as I can.  Once we started using the fresh we realized we will never go back and if you use a micro grater the cheese is as fine as that other stuff but is a whole lot healthier and tastier.


When I had added the okra, garbanzo beans and green beans, after cooking them for the additional ten minutes, the green beans were still not cooked enough for our tastes.  I cooked them for 15 more minutes and they were perfect.


There was a lot of prep work in this meal but starting out early does the trick for me and it was so worth the effort.


We served this with a crusty loaf that we bought from Wegmans.  It is called Rustic Batard and is our current favorite.  It went beautifully with this soup.