Sliding in to the second week of January, it’s so-far-so-good on getting more exercise, eating more vegetables and whole grains and less meat and butter. Of course, while the new year always feels like a good time for a fresh start, I had the “benefit” of a blood test in late November that reminded me I needed to get moving and pay more attention to my cholesterol. So yeah, even if you feel like you’re doing (most) of the right things, you really should have it checked every five years. Everything is documented in a food diary, and I’ll tell you, soup has been a savior as a vehicle for extra veg, beans and grains, whether its vegetarian chili, chicken tortilla, or this minestrone.
It’s soup weather most of the year in Seattle, but the downright cold, gray run we’ve been having has been perfect for soup. I did my 2 mile walk, had my coffee and was in hanging-out-at-home mode on Saturday morning so I speed-soaked and cooked the garbanzo beans/chickpeas. If you’ve got the time, chickpeas always seem to taste better cooked at home, less tinny, but canned are fine. Great northern or cannelini are good, too.
To make this more than just a vegetable soup, there are two things you can’t skip: a ¼ lb. chunk of pancetta and a small Parmigiano rind. This is the mark of a tasty soup. You’ll soon be pawing through the Parmigiano chunks looking for the ones with more rind. Use the cheese, then throw ‘em in a ziptop bag in the freezer and they pay off later. So good.
I’m still on the hunt for good, vegetable rich (no cream) soup recipes. There might be a turkey albondigas coming soon. Let me know your faves!
Soup, There It Is: MinestronePrint Recipe
- ¼ lb. pancetta, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- ½ a red onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 T. tomato paste
- ½ c. strained tomatoes (passata)
- 6 c. chicken broth
- ½ t. dried thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 c. cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- 1 parmesan rind.
- 4 large leaves lacinato kale, chopped in 1 in. pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it browns and renders its fat.
Reduce heat to medium, add the carrots, celery and onion, cooking until the onions are translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, don't let it brown. Stir in the tomato paste and strained tomatoes and cook for a minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, add the thyme, rosemary, chickpeas and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are softened. When you've got 5 minutes to go, add the kale and continue simmering until it wilts.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. (You shouldn't need much, the cheese will give you some good saltiness).