The weather has turned cold, the fireplace is on and it’s time for SOUP!
I swear, my husband would eat soup twice a day, everyday during the winter, if I would make it, and I have to admit that soup is an easy one for me. I make a big pot on Sunday or Monday and we eat it three or four times that week before it’s all gone. It’s easy to heat up and put on the table when time is running short. It’s warm and satisfying and there are so many different things you can do with it. If you’re creative you can make soup from almost anything.
Now, I have had Minestrone countless times. Sometimes it has pasta in it, sometimes it has beans in it, sometimes it has both, or as in this case, neither. Let’s face it Minestrone is what all good Italian Nonna’s make when it’s time to clean out the fridge because you can throw just about anything you have on hand in it and somehow or another it comes out wonderful.
This is another one from the European Road Trip. While we were in Stresa, Italy we stopped by what was to become our favorite restaurant, Mama Mia’s, for dinner. We had had a big lunch so we weren’t really all that hungry but needed some thing to go with the wine, which we very much needed. On their menu they had Nonna’s Minestrone. The perfect light supper to go with our wine.
When I think of Minestrone, I think of a rich heavy tomato based soup with pasta, which is what you find most places in the states. What we were served was something quite different. It had a light chicken broth base that was loaded with cabbage, potatoes, vegetables and fresh herbs; not a tomato in sight. I looked at it and thought, well, that’s not what I was expecting, but it smelled wonderful and I dug in and was not disappointed. The broth was flavorful, the vegetables tender and the combination of herbs and a little white wine put it right over the edge.
Pair this with some crunchy garlic toast and you have the perfect easy weeknight meal.
Yield 6-8 servings
1/2 med onion chopped (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery chopped
2 large carrots chopped
2 large cloves garlic minced
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup frozen lima beans or 1 can cannellini beans drained
1 cup frozen peas
3-4 med yukon gold potatoes cubed
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 t thyme
1/2 cup white wine
In a large soup pot saute your onion, carrots and celery in a little bit of oil with a pinch of salt until they start to get soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cabbage, chicken broth, lima beans, wine, and spices and simmer for 20 minutes until the cabbage starts to get soft. The cabbage takes longer to cook than the potatoes so I always wait to add them. After 20 minutes add the potatoes and peas and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top and some crunchy garlic bread.
When I make soup I use Jamison's soup base. This stuff is wonderful. It doesn't have as much sodium as bouillon. It has a wonderful consistency and gives great flavor to soups. Plus it's cheaper than canned broth and keeps on the shelf forever. 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of water.
When I made this I had some fresh fennel bulb in the fridge, so I used that instead of celery. You can substitute almost any vegetable you have on hand for this recipe (it's a a good way to use up those small portions of frozen vegetables you have in the freezer) but the cabbage is a key ingredient so don't leave it out.