Snow came to Pittsburgh. Low temps. There was even more snow in Ohio so I stayed in Pittsburgh. Driving didn’t make sense. Fortunately, the new oven and stove were motivational. I baked oatmeal cookies and made this soup, and Sunday made Aunt Rhea’s BBQ recipe, and baked a 6 layer cake. It ‘s sitting on a cake stand in the dining room waiting for me to photograph it. Tomorrow. No specific recipe just the regular start of simply sautéed onion, garlic and carrots and celery. Added water and salt and pepper. Let it simmer on the stove. I used the immersion blender just a bit to thicken the broth but left chunks of carrots so it wasn’t purée. (Easy to overdo with that device). Then I added a can of drained cannellini beans and some baby spinach to finish the soup. I am sure there are fancier recipes or more detailed but I knew I wanted a non-tomato one and what ingredients I had on hand so just made it. Our neighbor had given a gift at Christmas – a cylinder of delicious Manchego cheese and I warmed some Pane Italiano from Breadworks Bakery. No school Monday so I look forward to reheating the soup for lunch!
One time Laura sent me tips on how to photograph food. I should have read it more carefully. It is not easy to make it look tasty and inviting. I am at a point in my life where I lay out all the ingredients for a recipe before I start making it. You want to know you aren’t missing something crucial. The phone rings, you’re listening to the radio, you lose count. At least with it all spread out and ready you can doublecheck you added everything. Today was soup making day. I made a double batch but did each one in a single soup pot as I never think doubling in one pot works the best. The key to this Best Recipe is the addition of the Parmigiano Cheese Rind to boil up with the vegetables. It really makes the broth delicious. This recipe is total veg and I don’t add the pasta in the soup pot as it soaks up all the liquid. You can make ditalini and put it in the soup bowl and ladle the hot soup on top. I followed the recipe to the letter, slicing the leeks just so. And there is no such thing as inexpensive Parmesan. I cut the rind in half. The cannellini beans go in the last 5 minutes and I used canned. The recipe is from The Best Recipe cookbook(1999 edition) by the Editors of the Cooks Illustrated Magazine (page 28) or click here for their recipe for Hearty Minestrone. There are charts of other vegetables to use but broccoli is considered too strong for the soup and overpowering. And the reason it is called the Best Recipe is because they test all the recipes for a single dish and make it 100 different ways- with vegetable broth, chicken broth and the water with the wonderful soup rind- and they describe the pros and cons of each method and or addition. It’s good reading, about how and why they conclude they have found the BEST recipe! And I see there is a NEW Best Recipe out now. Yum!
A bowl of onions on the kitchen table has been talking to me saying “Onion rings in the cast iron skillet, onion rings in the cast iron skillet.” But I came to my senses and sliced them up and sauteed them in butter and olive oil to carmelize them. Toasted a slice of Allegro Hearth Farmgrain Bread and thin parings of Parmesan. Ladled the hot broth over the toast and cheese. Used my Grandmother Hendricks’ silver soup spoon with just the right bowl of a spoon for the soup. Found a wealth of information and recipes for Onion Soup. Click the link to read the history and simple directions on how to make it perfectly. And the birthday pasta bowls from V make a lovely soup plate for this winter meal.
A chill in the air, the leaves start to turn. October 4th is a good day. My DIL was born. She would rather eat a bowl of soup than a piece of cake. Happy Birthday Erika ! I watched my friend Roberta make this pot of minestrone Friday night. Fragrant, nourishing, delicious. We all ate a bowl and had some Hearth Bread from Whole Foods and it was a great kickoff for the beginning of soup season. I photographed it on my kitchen table in one of my mother’s bowls. The recipe is from The Best Recipe Cookbook by the editors of COOK’S ILLUSTRATED. Follow the recipe to the letter and you will be surprised. It is a different method and has no garlic unless you add it in the pesto or Rosemary mixture at the end. The key to the recipe success is the real Parmesan Cheese Rind.
2 small leek washed thoroughly, white and light green sliced thin crosswise
2 medium carrots peeled and cut small dice
2 small onions peeled and small dice
2 medium celery stalks trimmed and cut small dice
1 medium russet potato peeled and medium dice
1 medium zucchini trimmed and medium dice
3 c stemmed spinach leaves cut in thin strips
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained and chopped
1 Parmesan cheese rind about 5×2 inches
1 can cannellini beans drained and rinsed, added last 5 minutes
ground black pepper
at end add 1/4 c basil pesto or 1 T rosemary mixed with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and extra- virgin olive oil
Bring vegetables tomatoes and 8 cups of water, cheese rind and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a big soup kettle or pot.
Reduce hear to medium low simmer uncovered, stir occasionally,until vegetables are tender but still hold their shape about an hour.
Add beans and cook just until heated through about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
Remove and discard cheese rind. Stir in pesto or Rosemary mixture if desired and adjust seasonings adding pepper or more salt if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
If you want to add pasta be sure to cook separately, drain and put in soup bowl, then ladle soup over it so it doesn’t suck up all the broth.