Minestrone Soup

When you think about your favorite dishes, I doubt soup comes to mind. But this soup is about to change that – Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup full of vegetables, beans, pasta and topped with parmesan cheese. This version has sausage too!

The complete recipe, with measurements can be found at the bottom of the post

 minestrone soup

A few years back, I would watch Tyler Florence’s show every Saturday morning – almost religiously. The only reason I don’t watch it now is because it’s no longer being aired (and because a certain 3 year old has commandeered my TV remote…). One of his shows featured a recipe for Hunter’s Minestrone – and wow did it look good! I had always liked the thought of minestrone, but too often the actual soup was lacking – the vegetables were watery and bland, the broth was boring….but Tyler’s version was very promising! And it did NOT disappoint.

As with any recipe I make regularly, this one has met some modifications over the years….not enough to claim this recipe as “mine”, but enough to make an excellent recipe a little bit better (and easier to prepare).

First off Tyler wants you to steep you chicken stock with a whole head of garlic. Then he wants you to throw the garlic away! What!? I have to dirty a third pot AND trash the garlic? No thanks….instead I add the garlic into the vegetable medley.

rough chopped veggies

chopped veggies

Pulse the vegetables until everything is finely chopped, but not obliterated. The minced veggies give the broth a thicker consistency, which really makes this recipe stand out from other minestrone recipes I have tried.

sausage

Now for the sausage (and yes, this is the third post in a row that features sausage….but who’s counting?). I never have fresh sage on hand. I don’t grow it and I rarely use it. So instead of buying and chopping fresh sage, I buy Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage. This saves a little time and money and doesn’t affect the end result. But if you are a big fan of sage, by all means use it!

sausage, vegetables, herbs

After the sausage is nice and brown, it’s time for those veggies. Add them to the pot with salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves and crank the heat up to high. The vegetables are full of water, which needs to be cooked out. Stir regularly and watch for most of the liquid to evaporate. Next we add the stock, beans and tomatoes.

cannellini beans

My go to brand of processed tomatoes is Pomi. They are imported from Italy and come in a cardboard box. They are a little more than a can of Hunt’s, but you get what you pay for – which in this case is less…which is good! The only ingredient in a box of Pomi tomatoes is…get ready for it….tomatoes! No citric acid, no salt, no nothing. And you can taste the difference. My store sells 2 styles – chopped and strained. Strained is like sauce, and the chopped are…well they are just chopped. I use the chopped for this soup.

Pomi tomatoes

Allow the soup to come up to a boil, then turn the heat down low. You want it to simmer for about half an hour. Next we’ll add in the pasta and a few cups of fresh greens. If I was buying something specific for this dish, I would get spinach. But I often use what I already have – today I have mixed baby lettuces.

pasta in soup

mixed greens

Allow the pasta and greens to cook in the pot for at least 5 minutes – then it’s time to serve. I like mine with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper.

2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lb. Sage sausage
1 T. Fresh thyme, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 qts. Chicken stock
1 box Pomi tomatoes (or large can diced tomatoes)
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb pasta, cooked and drained
2 – 3 C. Fresh greens (spinach is best)

Pulse celery, carrots, onion, and garlic in a food processor until minced (but not pureed).

In a large pot, brown sausage in 2 tsp. of olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces. Once it is all browned, add in the vegetables, salt, pepper, thyme and bay. Allow moisture to cook out of vegetables, then add in stock, beans, and tomatoes.

Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add in the pasta and fresh greens. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Serve into bowls, garnish with fresh parmesan.

Note : This soup can be frozen. But I prefer to leave out the pasta if I intend on freezing it. Then I add it in when ready to reheat.

Advertisements

What’s on the Plate This Week? 1/20/2013

I heard a rumor there was football on this weekend – something called the playoffs? But the Saints haven’t played in almost a month, so I’m not sure what all the hoopla is about ;) Ok, I’m sure there are other teams out there worth watching….and if this weekend is anything like last weekend, we are in for an exciting day of football! I’m thinking a full spread of munchies is in order – some wings, grilled corn & avocado salsa, spinach dip…

Sunday Dinner – Football Fare

Later in the week – Minestrone soup (For Pat and Susan!) and Oven “Fried” Catfish with White Cheddar Mac & Cheese,

And here are my unsolicited picks for the games – I’m taking the 49ers over the Falcons and the Ravens over the Pats!

Spicy Tomato Soup

spicy tomato soup

Spicy Tomato Soup is a quick, easy, flavorful soup with just the right ammount of heat to warm you up on a cold day. Start to finish is about 30 minutes. Paired with a nice crusty bread (or my favorite, rosemary focaccia bread), this hearty soup is nutritious and filling. I can’t take any credit for this one – it is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 – 26 ounce jar marinara sauce (use your favorite brand)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 – 16 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 Cup of pasta (anything small)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat up 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on medium high. Add in the carrots and onion until softened. Then add in the garlic, half of the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in marinara, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add in pasta and beans. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Half way through simmering, check for seasonings. Add salt, pepper and red pepper as needed.