Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nina's Minestrone Soup



I've always had a soft spot in my heart for minestrone. Maybe because as a child it's one of the only soups I would eat, and it's the only way I voluntarily ingested vegetables until I was eleven. Whatever. It's still hearty, filling, and absolutely delicious. When the Snowpocolypse dumped eleventy billion pounds of snow on the city in early February, I knew soup & sandwiches would be the way to go for dinner. I used pantry staples to recreate one of my favorite meals, and I kept it relatively simple because I knew it could be a few days before we were able to venture back out into civilization again.

This is really delicious. Make it today, and feel warm and cozy, inside and out.

Minestrone Soup
(Bastardization of my grandmother's recipe)(Angie original)

2 T. Olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 strips bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes (or one large 28 oz. can)
2 15 oz. cans kidney or Great Northern beans
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 T. dried Italian parsley
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced (eggplant would be acceptable as well)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 c. chicken stock
1 c. water
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 c. pasta (or 3/4 c. if using larger corkscrews or pasta shapes)

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Cook bacon and onion until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add remaining ingredients, minus the pasta, and stir together. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Check carrots and potatoes for tenderness; continuing cooking and checking in 10 minute increments if necessary.

When vegetables are tender, add pasta and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve with sandwiches, bread, or any other soul-satisfying foods.

Notes:

  • Any sort of small pasta works really well with this soup. Orzo is a personal favorite, but elbow macaroni or small tubes would be perfect. I used Fiori, but I have a weird attraction to new pasta shapes. I need them in my life.
  • This soup will thicken as it simmers, so if you like it a little thinner, cook for 15-20 minutes and then add your pasta.
  • You could use whole tomatoes, too. All I had were diced, so in they went!
  • I say this with pretty much every meal that involves bacon as the primary protein--you can take out the bacon to make this a vegetarian soup, and sub out the chicken stock for vegetable broth or water. It's a few quick modifications to make this a meatless meal.

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