I have some wonderful friends. For the last 6 months I have been living without a garden. "So?" you might say. For me it's like you living without electricity. I love soil, rocks, green things and even bugs.
Through the generosity of friends I received some wonderful herbs, vegetables and whatnots. Nothing beats food grown yourself. Thank you Lisa and James, Elsie and Sharon.
Minestrone is for Italians what Chicken Soup is to everyone else. Love from Mom, love from home, cure-all and a hug for the heart and tummy. Simple but filling and nothing to feel guilty about. Here we go.
CHEF NICK'S MINESTRONE
First, a cooking term you might not know. Italian soups and sauces are often started with something called a "battuto". It's similar to the French mire poix but is chopped much much finer. How finely chopped? Wait for it.
MISE EN PLACE:
one large carrot or two medium
two stalks of celery
one large onion
3 strips salted pork (I used bacon, why not?) If you are going vegan, just omit and use olive oil.
pinch of dried chili flakes
salt/pepper. Do I have to say Kosher and fresh cracked again?
one red bell pepper, seeded and minced
one zucchini squash minced
one yellow squash minced
*no big chunks in Minestrone
fresh green peas
one can white beans, drained
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
handful of dried lentils
one cup of small pasta
one bay leaf
some fresh chopped parsley
some fresh chopped oregano
chiffonade of basil, save some for plating.
some good bread. ok I baked my own but you don't have to. Just toast it up, drizzle with olive oil and rub with a raw clove of garlic.
Grab a really sharp knife. Get the first five ingredients and start chopping.
I know, crazy right? Sure you can use your fancy shmancy food processor but it spins so fast and tends to grind rather than chop and renders way too much liquid out.
Heat up your soup pot and splash some olive oil on the bottom. Add the buttuto, salt and pepper, bay leaf and chili flakes. We just need to sweat this through, no browning here.
Add the rest of your vegetables and herbs. I said minced right? Yes I did. We need our garden in every spoon.
Sweating through again. Add all the tomato juice and stock. Bring to a boil and add your beans. bring to a simmer again and add your pasta and lentils. Simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes or so. Check your seasonings, last chance. That's it, you're done.
Plate by spooning into a bowl, sprinkle with extra basil and parmesan cheese. The crap in the green can is evil and wrong. If you use anything other than real parmesan I will summon my ancestors to kick your ass. Serve with a slice of bread as discussed above.
ps. If you want the recipe for a quick and easy bread, let me know.
Just for fun, here's some pictures of the new pad.