Friday, July 16, 2010

minestrone with summer herbs

This is a pantry soup, but also a herb garden soup.

Here’s how I made it: I looked in my cupboards and fridge, and then wandered out to the back deck to pick some herbs.

What? Those directions aren’t detailed enough for you?

They are in the spirit of minestrone, I think. Minestrone is an Italian soup that’s meant to be a jumble of veggies and beans and, sometimes, pasta.

Luckily, I made some notes as I went, so I can recreate this particular minestrone again. Although the flavour will always change, depending on which herbs are in season.

I am so proud of my eclectic little herb garden this year. For this soup, I used golden creeping marjoram, curly parsley, garlic chives, pineapple sage and spicy basil. You can use almost any herb you like: fresh or dry, depending on the season.

A note: I like to slice garlic instead of mince it. Garlic slices don’t burn as quickly as minces, especially when you’re sautéing them with onion for quite a while.

minestrone with summer herbs

makes 6 to 8 bowls

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
4 stalks celery and any attached leaves, sliced
9 c. chicken stock
1/4 - 1/2 c. fresh herbs or 1 – 2 tbsp. dried herbs (a combination of marjoram, parsley, chives, sage, basil, oregano and coriander)
3 carrots, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
19 fl. oz. (540 ml) canned white kidney beans, rinsed and strained
1 c. dry pasta
a rind of parmesan and parmesan to sprinkle on top

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Once it has melted together, add the onion, garlic and celery. Sauté until the onion has softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the stock, herbs, carrots, tomatoes and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil.

Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the beans and simmer another 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, boil your pasta in a separate pot. Cook until it’s al dente. Strain.

Once the vegetables in the soup are done, throw in the pasta and add salt and pepper to taste.

Fish out the parmesan rind. (It should resemble melting rubber at this point.)

Serve with freshly grated parmesan to sprinkle on top.

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