I’m going to share a recipe for Minestrone (my dad’s recipe) but I don’t have any pictures of the ingredients or even a finished bowl. It is still simmering on the stove and I just didn’t bother to slow down to take any photos. When it’s done, I’ll put some in the freezer and I’ll still be eating it for lunch all week.
But I do have some nice pictures to share because Rem and I took a lovely stroll this afternoon around the campus of Dominican University here in San Rafael and in the unseasonably warm weather we’re enjoying, (high 60’s, low 70’s), things are just starting to bloom.
Why, you may ask, are you simmering soup (and cooking beef in the slow cooker and baking muffins) when the weather is so mild? It is a reasonable question and one I’ve been thinking about this weekend.
After borrowing my mom’s dog, Molly, every Saturday morning and walking with my sister Kathleen and her dog, Ruby, I usually fix lunch and eat it with my mom. We both enjoy the visit and she likes a break from cooking for one. I open the door of the fridge to see what I might find and usually put together a salad or something quick and easy, maybe chicken quesadillas. This weekend I found some leftover kidney beans, and saw all the veggies used in minestrone. The recipe calls for bacon but turkey ham was a good substitute. Even on a spring-like day, it was delicious and it reminded me of my dad.
His recipe makes a giant pot – or as it says up at the top “for a crowd – makes 4 gallons!” By the time you add the macaroni, the liquid in the pot all but disappears. If you add a little more water or broth next time you heat it up, you can keep that pot going for awhile!
Anyway, I put that soup together pretty quickly and didn’t let it simmer “for an hour or two,” but the familiar flavor was still there. It tasted pretty much like the minestrone I grew up with.
Maybe I just need a little extra tenderness for myself this week and baking muffins and simmering soup is one way I know how to provide it. I’m having some dental work midweek that I’m not looking forward to. I really dislike going to the dentist and this is a long appointment (I’m getting a bridge: essentially it is like the prep work for two crowns) with another appointment in two weeks to finish the procedure.
A nice bowl of minestrone, thick with vegetables, macaroni and beans will be soft, nutritious, and easy for me to eat. It will also make my lunch prep a cinch.
My pot tonight isn’t quite a half recipe. It calls for a can of kidney beans and a can of garbanzo beans. I had cannellini (white kidney) beans and no garbanzos. I also just don’t have room in the pot for more broth. I’m going to share a half recipe here because it’s still pretty generous, but by all means double it if you are cooking for a big crowd!
Slightly adapted from David Faw
1/2 lb. bacon ends
3 quarts beef broth – dad used bouillon cubes or “Better Than Bouillon”
1 large onion
4 stalks celery
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 head green cabbage
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 of a small can (6 oz. size) tomato paste
1.5 cups macaroni
dry minced parsley (I don’t have any and didn’t miss it)
season with salt and garlic powder (I didn’t find it needed additional salt with the bacon, and I forgot about the garlic powder)
Cut up bacon pieces (I bought thick sliced bacon and it worked beautifully – my dad used to get bacon ends and pieces and this was a great use for them) into small bits. Brown the bacon over medium heat until fairly browned. Drain the bacon on a plate lined with paper towel and pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat.
Chop the onions and celery and saute in bacon fat on medium heat. Sprinkle flour over onions and celery and cook for a minute or two, this will absorb fat and thicken the finished soup – like it needs to be any thicker!
Peel the carrots and slice them into thick coins. Chop the cabbage into “soup” size pieces. Add the carrots, cabbage, beans, broth and tomato paste to the pot. If you want, you can put the tomato paste and some of the broth into a jar and shake it well to thin the paste and blend it more quickly into the soup. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down and let it simmer for an hour or two.
Add the macaroni 10 to 15 minutes before serving so it has time to cook. Stir and watch the soup so the macaroni doesn’t stick and burn.
To stretch, add additional broth and tomato paste.
Once I get through my appointment on Wednesday, I’ve got two nice things on the weekend to look forward to: breakfast with an old friend on Saturday and making Valentines with three old friends on Sunday.
Speaking of Valentines…I’ve been very busy making a bunch and will be sharing pictures soon.
Thank you for coming on by.