When I lived alone, I was all about the legumes.
Canned chickpeas, white beans and brown lentils were the three that most frequently appeared in my pantry, and I never tired of ways of making them.
Now that I’m living with Alex and cooking for both of us, I aim to please, and those of you frequenting this site may have noticed a change from one-pot vegetarian meals to more traditional meat+2veg meals.
The truth is, sometimes I miss my stews, chilis and dals. And so, when Alex is at work, I spend my time putting together big, steamy pots of food that can be eaten out of a bowl with a spoon and hopefully take kindly to a few shakes of Tabasco sauce, which, as most people who have spent any significant amount of time with me know, is my favorite way to enjoy food.
Minestrone fits all three of these categories, and I made a huge pot of it last week to eat as lunch for a few days. Minestrone for me has a few characters that have a command performance: whole canned tomatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, white beans, ditalini and some sort of bacon. After I have assembled these ingredients, all bets are off: if I have extra veggies rolling around in the fridge, I toss them in. If I have a rind of parmesan cheese, that goes in too.
This is my entry for My Legume Love Affair: 9th helping, which is being hosted this month by Laurie at Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska celebrates some of my favorite foods… legumes! The event was started by Susan at the Well-Seasoned Cook, and you can read all about it on her blog.
Unfortunately, this time around, I guess I outdid myself with this version of minestrone: Alex, who always looks for steak for dinner, ended up finishing my pot of minestrone. *Sigh*… guess it’s time to make some more.
Note: I am posting a recipe for the version I made this time around, but really, you can use any combination of vegetables you like.
3-4 ounces (100 g.) bacon, lardons or pancetta, cubed
1 branch celery, finely chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 carrots, cut into rounds
1 zucchini, cut into half-moons
1/2 green cabbage, chopped
1 28. oz. can tomatoes
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 28 oz. can white beans
ditalini or other small pasta
4-5 leaves basil
salt and pepper
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the bacon over medium heat until it begins to release grease and brown. Stir in the celery and onions, adding a pinch of salt. When the onions are soft, add the red pepper and carrots and turn the heat up to high. Stirring often, allow the vegetables to take on some color.
Add the zucchini and cabbage and stir. Cook about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the canned tomatoes and a bit of water to get to the consistency that you like. Add the dried basil and oregano and allow to cook, stirring once in awhile, for a half-hour.
Right before serving, add the beans and a handful of pasta for each person who will be eating. Add a bit of water so that the pasta can cook, and simmer for five minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and then remove from the heat. Stir in the basil leaves and serve.
This soup keeps well as long as you don’t add the pasta and beans until you are ready to serve. I usually add beans and pasta to my serving and keep the rest of the beans in a tupperware to add as I continue to eat the soup throughout the week.