When the temperatures plummet, it’s time to put on mittens and scarves, as well as a big pot of soup. Mostly I like the one-vegetable soups: tomato, butternut squash, pea, or potato. But with the first blast of winter, I want something more robust. A meal in one. Say… a hearty, homemade minestrone, brimming with vegetables.
I have my old standby recipe I’ve used for years. But recently I ran on to one with more ingredients at Food52.com (a great food site, by the way). I’m always up for a kitchen adventure, so I gave it a try.
Like most soups, it started with what the Italians call a soffritto, a sautéed mixture of chopped celery, onions, carrots, and garlic. The French absent the garlic in what they call a mirepoix (meer-PWAH). The flavorful base for soups, stews, and sauces is sometimes referred to in recipes as aromatics. I can smell why. Next to baking bread, the aroma is one of the kitchen’s most pleasant.
If I had a sous chef it would have been far easier to prepare this soup. As it was, I had to cut up the carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini, onions, leeks, garlic, spinach, and savoy cabbage. I stuck pretty much with the recipe, though I jettisoned the kale (not my favorite green) and used spinach and savoy instead.
The ingredients merged nicely with only 30 minutes of cooking. As I ladled up the soup, I mixed in a dab of aged balsamic vinegar and topped off the bowl with grated parmesan cheese. The recipe also suggested adding homemade pesto topping. But I was hungry. Instead I plated the quinoa salad I had made while the soup was brewing. I sat down to a luscious and highly nutritious lunch that made me forget the temperature was 10 degrees outside.
With lots of soup still left in the pot, I gave some to my daughter and her husband and put several bags in the freezer. With that done, I’m almost looking forward to another cold day.