Upon seeing a couple of inches of snow outside my window this morning, the first thought through my mind was "What do I want to do outside today?" and the second was "What should I cook?" Chilly winter days filled with snow make me crave warm, homemade, fresh from the oven/stove food, and today I was in the mood for minestrone.
First, I turned to Jane Brody's Good Food Book but found no such recipe.* Then, I checked More with Less, which offered two possibilities, neither of which was quite what I wanted. Time for the internet then. Foodgawker gave me plenty of good suggestions but none of them fit what was already in my kitchen. In that case, might as well experiment.
Minestrone ingredients and approximate quantities:
(Note: I made a lot of soup, so either invite over friends or be prepared to freeze a bunch of soup. Or halve the amounts, you know.)
2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup shredded, frozen zucchini
a bunch of kale torn into bite size pieces
1 can (14.5 oz) Italian seasoned, diced tomatoes**
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1 bay leaf
Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Salt, and Pepper to taste
1.5 cup macaroni
1. Since you probably didn't realize you were making this the night before, quick soak the beans in a stock pot by bringing them to a boil, turning the heat off, cover and leave for 2 hours.
2. Simmer the beans for 2 hours. While they simmer, dice the onion, garlic, and celery. Saute the mixture in a tablespoon of oil until onions and celery are translucent.
3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, zucchini, kale, tomatoes, carrots and bay leaf to the beans. Add a bit more water if needed to cover beans and veggies. Season with oregano, thyme, and basil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Add the macaroni and simmer for 20 more minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper, and any more of the herbs if desired. Don't forget to remove the bay leaf.
6. Enjoy while gazing out at the falling snow! This soup is delicious with Parmesan on top (though then it is obviously not vegan). It is also great served with oatmeal rolls. Mix the dough just after turning the beans on to simmer. Then, let rise as you work with the veggies. It should be ready to go in the oven a bit before you add the macaroni noodles to the soup.
*The Vegetable-Bean Soup with Pistou is similar but not quite. I've never seen minestrone with potatoes before.
**The Italian seasoning was by accident, so just use plain diced tomatoes and up the oregano, thyme, and basil.