Wish Upon A Dish: Minestrone Soup

December 29, 2012

Minestrone Soup

 There are as many variations on this soup as there are cooks who make it.
Tonight because a mean Nor-Easter is upon us, I pretty much cleaned out my crisper drawer and little containers of soups I had all intentions of eating for lunch but never did, into a big pot of bubbling goodness.

Who cares if it's not exactly a real minestrone, I did add all the obligatory vegetables plus some bonus dinosaur kale I got at whole foods.
What I did add that is not normal, is a hunk of baked country ham (instead of pancetta) and corn (the last of this soup), and instead of chopped tomatoes I used tomato paste. It was good, hot and warmed our bellies.

Soups are not only good for those wintry blizzard nights, they are a good way to get vegetables into the kids (and husbands alike) and clean out your fridge. In the south and all around Italian-American homes, long simmering soups were cooked on wash day. They would take the bones and scraps of the weekend roast, add the ends of tough vegetables, lots of beans and set it on the stove to simmer for hours. Whether it be a Red Bean and Rice, a Minestrone soup or a Brunswick soup, our mothers and nana's knew how to use every last bit of food. They called it being frugal and smart, people today actually call it gourmet and I call it comfort in a bowl.

Go figure. I love it.

So, you ask, why would you post about a soup that would be very hard to replicate. I want you to start creating your own. I want you to open the fridge and pull out a little of this and that and make a meal.
I want you to create, what will become your family's favorite winter soup.

Minestrone Soup
serves 4
* 4 slices ham, bacon or pancetta, diced
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 1 carrot, diced
* 1 large garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 onion, chopped
* 1/2 cup leeks, sliced
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 parsnip, chopped
* 4-5 kale leaves
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 quart chicken broth
* 1 chicken bouillon cube
* salt & pepper to taste
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 1 cheese rind
* 1/2 cup white beans
* 1/2 cup vegetable (green beans, peas or corn)

1.  Saute bacon in olive oil. Add onions, garlic, carrot, parsnip, leeks and celery and saute until they soften.
2. Add bay leaves and white wine. Cook the wine out and add the tomato paste.
3. Add chicken broth and bouillon cube and stir to combine. Add cheese rind, beans rest of vegetables.
4. Simmer for 1 hour. Add 1 cup soup pasta and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Remove bay leaves and cheese rind.
6. Serve with grated cheese and bread.

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