Tuesday, January 13, 2009

alice waters's minestrone

To start, let me just say that this soup is highly delicious.

We're on a new program at our house right now. It involves making big batches of food that we can eat during the week, with the hope that we cut back on eating out, eating at the whole foods/gelson's salad bar (gelson's is especially vile, IMO), and eating food that isn't thoughtfully prepared. So making a huge soupy thing on Sunday turns out to be a nice staple to have through the week.

We also have an impressive stockpile of winter squash (you remember these guys, right?) lazing around the backyard and kitchen, so priority number one was to make something (ANYTHING) that used squash in some way. Good old Alice. She is such a trusty kitchen friend. This minestrone seemed deceptively simple on paper... which is probably the point of the book, duh. But it's sooooooo good. Did I mention that already? I ate 2 HUGE bowls on Sunday. Huge as in we were eating out of small serving bowls. So that's 2 SERVING BOWL size portions of soup. Anyway, she gives her standard summer minestrone recipe with seasonal variations which all sound really good.

If you're handy with the wooden spoon and chef's knife, and can read well enough to follow this recipe, you should make this soup.

The pump:

The friendly herbs:

Wintery Minestrone
(adapted from The Art of Simple Food).

1 1/2 cups dried cannellini or great northern beans (I used great northern because whole foods didn't have cannellini in stock. but I do love cannellini...)

Soaked over night, drained, and cooked in filtered water until soft. Salt towards the end of cooking and reserve cooking liquid. Set aside.

Heat in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat:
1/4 c olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped

Cook for 15 minutes until sofritto (new word for me! though I think this is just Italian for mirepoix, non?) is tender and tasty on it's own. Salt a teeny bit during the cooking, as Alice instructs, so the soup develops flavor as you go.

Then add:
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
leaves of 5 thyme springs
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 bay leaves (I used fresh, because we have them growing outside, but dried is obviously fine... though maybe you need less?)
2 tsp salt

Cook for 5 minutes or so. Add:
1 small can of tomatoes, chopped
2 bunches Lacinato kale, chopped into bite size pieces.

Cook for 5 minutes, Add:
3 cups filtered water

Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Then add:
4 cups cubed pumpkin or any orange flesh winter squash (Alice uses butternut, but I'm sure she would approve of my homegrown substitution)

Taste, and salt if necessary. Cook until squash is tender... about 10-15 minutes.

Finally, add the
Cooked white beans and 1 cup of their liquid (or more depending on how much is needed.)

Serve with grated Parmesan. (not shown... I had to take this the next morning. FOR THE LIGHT. Beacause I hate yellow compact fluorescent lightbulbs. The things we do for the earth, I tell you.)


I'm going to submit this to this month's GROW YOUR OWN, which is a first for me. Fun! I feel so INVOLVED. New year, new me. You know?

Also, would anyone like some spare pumpkin? We have like 2/3 of that one left in the fridge.


Anonymous said...

So lovely. The Art of Simple Food was my favorite cookbook of 2008 (can you tell I have a little cookbook problem?). We've been traveling so much I haven't been able to go to the farmer's market (SO jealous of your garden, sigh...). I will be there this weekend. Alice's Winter Soup sounds just perfect.

Andrea Meyers (Grow Your Own) said...

This sounds and looks completely delicious. We like to make pumpkin and squash soup, too, it's such a comfort food. Welcome to Grow Your Own!

Lana Manis said...

Looks delicious! I like the idea of cooking something to go all through the week. Some days I go in the kitchen and think... ugh! I have to cook again??? Think I'll try this one...

Love your banner, by the way!

Anonymous said...

I'm adding this to my list of things I have to make! Looks yummy :)

jora said...

I am a thousand percent sure I would love this soup as much as you since I worship A.W. (as cliche as that sounds) and since I would eat anything involving lacinato kale, squash and beans. Nuff said.

Rachel said...

Yum, yum, yum. I've been starting to do major cooking/meal prep on the weekends to save myself some time during the week and I'm loving it. Jealous of all your homegrown goodness, though. Not quite as easy to manage in an apartment with no yard.

P said...

First of all, I love this recipe. Second, I love your photographs. Third, I love that the squash and pumpkins came from your garden.

You are such a stud.

east side bride said...

I've also resolved to cook more meals at home. I'm feeling very wifey all of a sudden :)

Anonymous said...

What a delicious recipe. And so perfect for these cold, wintery months. I cannot wait to try.

Habit said...

i can't believe i haven't found your blog 'til now. this soup looks amazing... i made a vegetable soup last night that i'm sure pales in comparison to this! thanks!

Ben said...

I'm interested in trying your adaptation...I just made her recipe for the first time and am now ready to venture out a little. I like your additions of kale & tomatoes and I think I"ll give this a whirl next time!