Monday, January 6, 2014

Flavorful Minestrone Soup for a Cold Winter's Day

The sun may be shining, but it is COLD outside! Brr... Temps are below zero, winds gusting up to 35 mph.

View from my window
There's something about winter's chill that makes us yearn for comfort food. When I was growing up my mother served grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup for lunch on days like this. We usually had hot cocoa and stovetop popcorn for snacks, and dinner was likely to be a macaroni casserole with made with onions, ground beef and tomato sauce.

But, I'm doing something different today. I'm baking up some whole wheat French bread and cooking a huge pot of minestrone soup. My kitchen is getting all nice and cozy and our tummies will be warmed up, too. I'll share the bread recipe in a future post.


One of the best things about minestrone soup is that you don't have to follow any particular list of ingredients. There isn't just one recipe. The essentials are onions, green or red sweet peppers, tomatoes, Italian spices, and pasta. Add veggies, mixing and matching your favorite flavors. Toss it all together into a big pot and let it simmer.

So this is minestrone soup made my way. Nothing is measured - I just tossed in whatever I found that looked good. If I'd had peas and okra on hand instead of carrots and celery, they would have made fine choices.

This is what went into my soup:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 1 small zucchini chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic  
  • a couple of stalks of celery, chopped
  • a few baby carrots, sliced (these were aging and needed to be used up)
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes  
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • about 1/2 cup small shell pasta
  • basil (about 1 teaspoon)
  • parsley (about 2 tablespoons)
  • bay leaf (1)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water

Step 1: Fry the onion on medium heat in olive oil, stirring often.

Step 2: When the onion is just lightly browned, add the zucchini. Continue frying on medium heat until the zucchini begins to brown.

Step 3: Toss the rest of the chopped veggies into the pot. Continue cooking and stirring often for another several minutes.

Step 4: Add herbs. I chose these.
A generous portion of parsley (I dropped in about two tablespoon of dried parsley.)
A pinch or two of basil to suit your taste buds
One bay leaf

Step 5:
Pour in a can of chicken broth, a can of chopped tomatoes, and add some water. 
Turn temperature to medium low, and let it all simmer for awhile.

Step 6:
When the veggies are tender, but not overcooked, drop in the pasta and any frozen veggies you might add. The soup will need to cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 7: Serve it up, nice and hot!

Quick and easy and full of flavor!

Keep Warm!!