Monday, February 21, 2011

Minestrone


This soup is not glamorous. It's humble, hearty, and not very spectacular looking. But it sure is good. I can't help but share this recipe with my dear readers. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Oh, and don't be tempted to make this pareve or to use water instead of stock. The stock is essential for a rich flavor, and the salty, briny parmesan is a really important finishing touch. In case you don't know my trick for fresh stock every week, here it is: All week long, whenever I peel a fruit or vegetable, I put the peels/cores/leftovers into a ziploc bag in the door of the freezer. I save onion and garlic skins; celery scraps; peels from carrots, potatoes, turnips and sweet potatoes; and apple and pear cores and peels. When the bag is totally full, I rinse the scraps really well in a colander and then I cook it up with a splash of soy sauce and some dried mushrooms for a rich pareve stock.

Minestrone Soup
I know, it seems like a lot of work, but the stock prepares itself while you're making the soup. It's such an easy way to get in more nutrients and flavors.  


STOCK
about 4 cups of vegetable scraps, such as onion and garlic skins; celery scraps; peels from carrots, potatoes, turnips and sweet potatoes; and apple and pear cores and peels
a handful of dried mushrooms
a splash of soy sauce 
8 cups water
3 bay leaves


SOUP
1 tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, chopped coarse
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped coarse
3 stalks of celery, chopped coarse
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped coarse
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped coarse
1 large or 2 small zucchini, washed (not peeled), and chopped coarse

1 potato, peeled and chopped coarse
a handful of frozen spinach

1 head of garlic, unpeeled and left whole
1 teaspoon salt
1 can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 box of your favorite large noodles, like rigatoni or shells, cooked and drained

grated parmesan for garnish
chopped parsley (optional) for garnish


First, start the stock. Wash the vegetable scraps very well in a colander. Combine them with the remaining ingredients in a very large pot. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for about an hour. (Less is okay, but the flavor does get richer as it cooks.)

While the stock is simmering, prepare the vegetables for the soup. Heat the oil in a large soup pot  and saute the onion for a few minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 10-15 minutes, till soft. Add the remaining vegetables and cook a few minutes longer.

When the stock is finished cooking, strain the stock - discarding the vegetables and reserving the liquid. (I simply put the colander over the stock pot with the cooking grated vegetables. I pour the stock right through the colander, leaving the vegetables behind and putting the stock right in with the grated vegetables.)

Add the stock to the cooking vegetables, along with the beans and salt, and cook for another 1/2 hour or so.

Stir the noodles into the individual bowls before serving, garnished with parmesan and/or parsley.

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