September 27, 2013

Minestrone: Hello, soup season.

It was in a teeny, tiny old kitchen in Missouri that I first discovered how vegetables, water and spices can cook down into something comforting, and even satisfying.
It was my first month on my own post-college, in a new town where I knew precisely one person. I didn't think much of it that day, but the New York Times recipe for Summer Minestrone I found would set the tone for this season I was entering.

I would feed myself without a meal plan, without my mother, without good friends to eat with. Trying a new recipe to eat off all week would become my go-to weekend escape. In a creaky, sometimes creepy, small space all of my own, I learned what I liked to eat and how I liked to cook, not just what  I grew up with but still building on that foundation.

Five years later, my life looks different, though not drastically.  I am closer to home and have new companions in my day-to-day comings and goings. I share the fruits of my kitchen in different ways than I did then.
But as I  sauté onions and carrots, add tomatoes to simmer, and fill my kitchen with the aroma of Italian spices, once again all by myself, I return to fellowship with a simmering pot, with thoughts left to wander, with solitude.

For a good part of the evening, I don't look at my phone or consider the rest of the world's social plans on this Saturday night. I rest in the moment, in my happy place, and travel back to a mid-day lunch of Summer Minestrone and Parmesan toast in my lil' old grad school apartment. This is me embracing who I was created to be, and no one else.

Adapted from The New York Times 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (I buy precut ones in bags and chop them—forget peeling!)
1-3 celery stalks, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
3/4 pound zucchini, diced
2 bay leaves
Parsley, to taste
Thyme, to taste
Basil, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup elbow macaroni or other pasta
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Parmesan, optional topper
Heat the olive oil to medium-low range in a large, heavy soup pot or, and add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring about three minutes until vegetables begin to soften, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about five more minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about a minute, then mix in the tomatoes. Keep stirring until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Stir in two quarts (8 cups) water, zucchini and spices, and bring to a simmer. Add 2 tsp. salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the canned beans. Taste and adjust salt.
Add the pasta to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Grind in pepper, and adjust seasonings.
Remove bay leaves.
Serve in soup bowls, with a sprinkling of Parmesan over the top.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pretty please share your thoughts!