Minestrone Soup

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Back from vacation and I am nearly stuck in the snow in Champaign.  Vacation was wonderful; Charlie and I spent our time in Fresno, CA with my family out there.  It was very relaxing and beautiful weather, but coming back home we realized how much family we had to visit!  It was definitely a lot for both of us, and we enjoyed the peace and quiet.  However….apparently we’re going to be spending a LOT of time together because there is a massive snowstorm through Champaign, leaving us with 8-12 inches of snow today!

Last night, I thought soup would be a perfect thing to make during the snowstorm.  The store was absolutely crazy—everyone was stocking up for the next few days.  It was very similar to when everyone freaked out about the milennium!  But regardless, I found what I needed, and this soup will last me a WHILE.  The great thing about soup if you’re trying to save money: you could literally have soup for a week and half, and you’d probably still have some left over.  It’s amazing how that stuff can last!

I had an old recipe from Craig Claiborne’s cookbook, but I made a few changes to his recipe.  I personally like my minestrone a little heartier, so I used a 6 oz can of tomato paste instead of 1 Tbsp.  You’ll need to add more water if you don’t want it to end up like a pasta sauce, haha, but the fun part is you can taste it until it’s the perfect consistency!  I didn’t use the beans because Charlie doesn’t like beans, but if you’d like to add them, just take 1/2 lb dry white beans soaked in water overnight, drain, and boil beans in salted boiling water for 1 hour.  Drain them, let them sit, and add them in once all of the soup has been cooking for 45 minutes.  It’s a very hearty soup, full of fresh vegetables and spices.  Charlie is NOT  a soup fan typically, and he said it was my best soup I’ve made for him!  Perfect for cold weather like this 🙂

YIELD: 12-14 servings

TIME: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 lb salt pork, diced (couldn’t find it at the store, thanks to the crazy shoppers, but I just used bacon which was an excellent addition!)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 leek, diced
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped basil
6 oz tomato paste
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 potatoes, diced
2 zucchini, quartered
red pepper flakes
1-1/2 quarts water
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup small shells
grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS
Brown salt pork, garlic, onion, leek, parsley, and basil in oil for 15-20 minutes over medium high heat.  Add 1 Tbsp tomato paste with 1 Tbsp water, and cook 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, celery, potatoes, zucchini, a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes, water, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for 45 minutes.  Add pasta and cook 10 minutes.  Adjust seasonings, pour into bowls, sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.

Hope y’all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara

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