Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter Weekends Call for Soup

This winter I've been whipping up a batch of soup pretty much each weekend. Soup, to me, is a perfect food, especially when paired with bread and topped with cheese. Soup doesn't take a lot of effort to make, but yields many meals of nutritious and filling sustenance. A favorite this winter has been my twist on minestrone. I sometimes don't like minestrone because some people feel the need to put in TOO many beans and odd vegetables (such as mushrooms or green peppers, blech). This version does a good job of hiding half of the beans and sticks with what I consider perfectly acceptable soup veggies. Chris likes it because there is meat involved. Original recipe is here, but I can't comment on that as I have always made it the following way:

My White Bean and Sausage Minestrone
2 -3 links of Italian sausage
1 carton chicken stock
clove garlic
3 carrots
2 ribs of celery
Spices to your liking, plus salt and a bay leaf (I rely heavily on the sausage to add heat to the soup, but if your sausage is a little anemic tasting, you'll have to help it with red and black pepper)
2 cans of white beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Pastini (the tiny pasta used in Wedding Soup)
1/2 bag fresh spinach

Method: Squish the sausage out of the casing and into a hot soup pot. Brown until pretty much cooked through. Remove sausage from pot. Add chopped garlic, carrots and celery. Add spices and bay leaf. Let cook for 2 - 5 minutes. Meanwhile using blender or immersion blender, puree one of the cans of beans with some of the chicken stock until smooth. Add puree and remainder of stock to soup pot. Add other can of beans (rinse first). Add desired amount of water to the pot. Add tomatoes. Let the soup come to a boil. Add pastini (this really expands, so always use less than you think need). Let cook for at least 30 minutes. Before eating add rinsed and stemmed spinach (always more than you think you will need) to the pot and let that cook down.

Top with Parmesan cheese and serve with bread - enjoy!

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