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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Minestrone… A Marvelous Medley

There was a time when a bowl of minestrone soup for dinner would strike fear in me. It was definitely not one of my favorite meals.

As a child I just couldn’t appreciate the different textures and tastes that came together in one bowl at the same time.

I think it takes time for a child to develop a palate that can truly savor all that a plate of cooked vegetables can offer.

I don’t know exactly when it all happened but a bowl of minestrone soup and a loaf of homemade bread ranks high on my scale of ultimate comfort foods.

While growing up, all but one of my kids enjoyed eating this meal. Not to mention, cauliflower was totally banned from the pot. You will note that cauliflower didn’t even make it onto the list of ingredients!

The vegetables I include in this recipe serve only as a guideline. You can add any favorite vegetable or omit any that you don’t prefer. Just remember to keep the size of the cut up vegetables as uniform as possible in order that they cook within the same time.

Minestrone… a marvelous medley. Enjoy!

Minestrone Soup

4 medium potatoes (3/4 inch dice)
2 stalks celery, diced
1 ½ cups frozen peas
1 ½ cups green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large or 2 medium cooking onions, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (19 ounce can) white kidney beans with juice
2 cups tomato puree (or process one 28 ounce can plum tomatoes in blender then pass through sieve to remove seeds)
½ cup corn oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash and prepare vegetables as indicated above.
  2. Mix them together in a large bowl or colander except for can of beans and garlic.
  3. In a large pot add corn oil and minced garlic, sauté garlic until barely golden.
  4. Add all the vegetables to the pot except for the can of beans.
  5. Stir everything together; add tomato puree and just enough water to cover vegetables.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer over low heat for approximately 45 to 55 minutes.
  7. Mix the can of beans in during the last 15 minutes of cooking time. The beans and their juice will thicken the soup. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Notes, Tips and Suggestions

  • It’s interesting that while each vegetable has its own cooking time, when combined they cook within the same time. Just make sure to keep the size of the cut vegetables as uniform as possible.
  • Close to the end of cooking time, test the green beans and carrots for doneness. If they are cooked, usually the rest of the vegetables are cooked also.
  • Fresh peas can be substituted for frozen.
  • If you cook your own beans from scratch save 1 to 1 ½ cups of beans, freeze and use in the recipe
  • Adding hot chili pepper flakes makes for a spicy treat.
  • Mixing some cooked rice into minestrone just before serving makes a new meal.
  • For those who have an affinity to cauliflower, be my guest it wasn’t me who banned it.
Now is the time to bake some bread!

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