Soup-making brings memories of home.
I love to make soup. It brings to mind one of my favorite memories of my mother. Not that she ever made soup. Her sister, however, was an inveterate soup maker. She started from scratch and made her own stocks. When my mother was confronted with a bowl of Aunt Helen’s best, she remarked “Oh Helen, why make soup when you can just open a can”.
A Soup Recipe that’s remarkably simple to make.
I have to admit. She does have a point. You can make soup-making a days-long affair. But trust Ina Garten to give us a recipe so dead easy, you could decide to make it an hour before dinner. It’s from Ina’s 2012 cookbook “Foolproof” (Clarkson-Potter). I looked at the ingredient list and realized I had virtually everything required stuffed into my vegetable drawer or on hand in the pantry. And I also remembered that there is no set recipe for Minestrone. It dates all the way back to the Latin tribes of Rome before there was even a Roman Empire. The local diet was said to be ‘vegetarian by necessity’. Only in the 2nd century when Rome built its roads was the city was flooded with foodstuffs –including meat and from meat, stock for soups.
You probably have everything you need right in your fridge and your pantry.
I had Onions, carrots, celery. No squash but a fennel bulb as a stand-in. And no pancetta. However, a couple of Italian sausages added just the right meaty flavor. The pantry staples–the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, and pasta—were there. The pesto was not so I left it out and I have to say, we didn’t miss it. At the last minute, I stirred in baby spinach. The soup was phenomenal. Full of flavor, every spoonful was comforting and warming and filling.
Don’t forget the Baguette or the Bruschetta.
Ina included a recipe for Garlic Bruschetta which I have included here. I did not make it because we have a branch of the Parisian Bakery, Maison Kayser, right near us. Honestly, there is not a better baguette this side of Paris. And with lovely smears of French Salted Butter, it was heavenly dipping our crusty bread in our hearty soup. Here’s the recipe and after it, a couple of other soups to enjoy.
Ina Garten's Winter Minestrone
A richly robust soup that comes together in no time.
- Good olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, ½-inch-diced or 2 Sweet Italian Sausages, crumbled
- 1½ cups chopped yellow onions
- 2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
- 2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
- 2½ cups (½-inch) diced peeled butternut squash or 2 cups diced Fennel bulb
- 1½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 26 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti or macaroni
- 8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup good dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto (optional)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Step 1 Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Step 2 Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Step 3 While the soup is simmering, cook whatever pasta you choose in rapidly boiling water that has been salted. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain, set aside.
- Step 4 Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the spinach, and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste. Serve large shallow bowls of soup with a bruschetta on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.
Garlicky and delicious and perfect dipping into soup.
- 1 baguette
- Good olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Step 2 Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each one with the cut clove of garlic.