First of all, check out my winter wonderland...
Of course snow is the perfect occasion for a huge pot of soup and homemade rolls. It's for warm fuzzy socks and laying on the couch with a good book. It's for snuggling up with a warm blanket and maybe a lazy dog. There's really nothing more comforting; so long as you don't have to leave the house.
But you've got to understand that I'm committed to my huge pot of soup. And you better believe I trekked to the grocery store for fresh vegetables. Because I believe that canned soup is gross.
I will never consider myself a food snob. I hate the term "foodie."
Because as much as I love and appreciate good food, my love for food encompasses even the simplest of things. I've told you of my love for snacks. I will spend an hour making macaroni and cheese, but I will never be too good for the boxed stuff. I have an almost frightening love for peanut m&ms and a secret obsession, thanks to my grandparents, with sandwiches made from Campbell's Pork and Beans and white sandwich bread (and yea, I put ketchup on that). I'll dig on boxed brownies and Funfetti cake any day. What can I say? I'm an American till the end.
But I really think that canned soup is sad. Depressing. Floppy noodles, bits (not even pieces) of chicken that probably wouldn't even make it to McNuggets, more sodium than a human should have in a week, tasteless vegetables... I could continue, but I won't. Mostly because I feel mean if you're eating canned soup right now. (I'm sorry; it doesn't make you a bad person.)
Because for a bit more effort we can all have something really great.
If you've never made your own soup before, I really strongly encourage you to try it. It's soup-er easy and soup-er worthwhile. (Bada-bing!)
In general, when I make soup I usually take the "throw whatever is about to start rotting in the fridge into a pot" approach. Sometimes it wows; sometimes it doesn't. But I hate wasting food, so either way it always works for me. But this minestrone is definitely worth following the recipe. This recipe was given to me highly recommended by a very trusted source, so I knew I had to follow directions. With one change. Couldn't help myself?
It's flavorful and healthy. The vegetables taste like vegetables. The sodium levels are kept in check. It smells like heaven on a snowy day. And best of all, it's really fairly easy. In fact, as long as you can enlist a buddy to help chop vegetables, it's really just as easy as opening a can (ok, maybe that's an exaggeration).
Soundtrack: More Brothers Past... I know. You don't even have to say it. I'm hanging my head in shame already. AHH BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
Adapted from Alice Water's - The Art of Simple Food via Sharon Lustig
1/4 c EVOO
3 carrots (mine were smaller, so I used 4), peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
5 thyme sprigs (mine disappeared somewhere between the grocery store and my apartment, so a tsp of dried thyme works just fine; however I would recommend at least attempting to obtain fresh)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp kosher salt
4 c. vegetable stock (We all believe the key to this recipe is in the stock - use Medford)
2 c. water
1 leek, diced
1/2 lb green beans, cut into 1" lengths
2 c. red swiss chard, coarsely chopped
1-15 oz can diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 c grape tomatoes, halved (I used the canned diced)
1 rind of chunk of Pecorino-Romano cheese (Or Parmesan), plus additional grated to serve
1 c. butternut squash, cubed
1 can cannelloni beans (with liquid)
1 can red kidney beans (with liquid)
Salt (additional) and pepper, to taste
Heat EVOO over medium heat in a large heavy pot. Add onion, carrots and parsnip and saute for 15 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring often. Add garlic, thyme sprigs (or dried), bay leaf and salt and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 5 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and water, stir and bring the contents to a boil. Once boiling, add leek and green beans. Cook on a boil for 5 minutes, then stir in cheese rind, squash, tomatoes and chard. Once soup boils again, reduce heat to medium, then cook another 15 minutes.
Add beans with liquid. Stir and taste for salt, adding more if necessary and a bit of black pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaf, thyme sprigs (if used) and cheese rind. Serve with grated Pecorino (my preference) or Parmesan cheese.